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‘Make screening of short films mandatory'

Special Correspondent

PANAJI: Filmmakers are emphatic on the need for having venues for exhibiting short films, either at cinema houses or through slots made available by broadcasters or through creation of captive channels by the national broadcaster.

Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) president Mike Pandey on Monday urged broadcasters to provide slots in their channels for value based content.

Addressing journalists at the Media Centre of the 41st International Film Festival of India here, he said talks were being held with the Information & Broadcasting Ministry to make it mandatory for broadcasters to designate at least a half-hour slot for value based content.

Later in the evening, filmmaker Goutam Ghosh, chairman of the jury for the international competition of short films, said TV channels were not doing justice to short films though there were good numbers of viewers for this category in the country. The government should make it mandatory for theatres to show short films as had been done by the Films Division earlier.

Praising the Entertainment Society of Goa's concept of Short Film Centre, Mr. Ghosh said the possibility of a separate channel for short films should be explored.

Mr. Pandey emphasised the high educational value of quality short films. Education was a major challenge to the country, especially for nearly 67 per cent of the people living in rural India. Documentary producers and broadcasters “with a reach of about 800 million” could come together to help in this task. Lamenting the quality of some documentaries, Mr. Pandey said 13 national awards (out of the 33 awards in the documentary/short film category) could not be given this year as they were not up to the mark.

“These films are tools for empowerment; people who watch them should learn something new. These are tools of change of the future which pave the way for knowledge and empowering of society,” said Mr. Mehta whose Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India led to legislation for protection of the species.

Mr. Pandey said the IDPA was planning to buy a one-hour slot in all TV channels to provide pre-school education and motivate children to learn, and to infuse new thinking in them. The Trust's objective was to educate and inform people of critical issues including environment.

Mr. Pandey, who has made several award winning films on environment which won him three Green Oscars, said the government, corporate houses and the media should support the cause.

Sanskar Desai, general secretary, spoke of the steps taken by the IDPA such as setting up regional coordinators and instituting fellowships for young documentary makers. To promote the documentary movement, the IDPA, formed in 1956, has been collaborating with the Mumbai International Film Festival, and the Festival of Documentary and Animation Films organised by the Films Division and the Short Film Centre at the IFFI in Goa every year.

Mr. Naresh Bedi, chairman of the jury for the Vasudha Award (environmental film section) of short films, said it would be tough to mobilise funds for environmental films unless one really had a passion for the cause.

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