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IFFI 2017: Canada Lacks Homegrown Star System; Indian Actors Very Popular Here, Says TIFF Director

Canada has so far been unable to generate a “homegrown Canadian star” for itself and now it looks like Indian actors are getting the full advantage of it.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com@shrishti_03

Updated:November 23, 2017, 12:23 PM IST
IFFI 2017: Canada Lacks Homegrown Star System; Indian Actors Very Popular Here, Says TIFF Director
Cameron bailey (Image courtesy: Twitter/@cameron_tiff)

In the past few years, Indian actors seem to have joined the ranks of international stars in terms of popularity. Not only have they been successful in establishing themselves as global figures but also in making the Indian film industry a brand all around the world. This is probably the reason why India and its market have become an attractive destination for various foreign film industries to invest in. One such nation is Canada, which is quite interested in the Indian audience.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Toronto International Film Festival director Cameron Bailey, who is also a Canadian film critic, says, “The most important thing with India is that it doesn’t have only one market, it has many markets of film culture across country in different languages, different styles of filmmaking and I find it very exciting. Everywhere along the line and every level of society all across the country, people seem to be into cinema.”

Bailey, who is here to attend the International film festival of India (IFFI) and 11th edition of NFDC Film Bazaar, says one of the main reasons why Indian cinema has shown a remarkable growth over the years is because it just doesn’t only have artistic ambition but is also able to communicate with its audiences. “In the last few years, we have found a nice kind of equilibrium in terms of filmmakers who have personal visions for making independent films from their own personal perspective. We have premiered Anurag Kashyap’s latest film Mukkabaz at our festival (TIFF) and he’s a great example of a filmmaker like that. So that seems to be the sort of films audiences are responding to.”

So is that why international filmmakers and storytellers are increasingly drawn to India?

“In India, there are so many stories and they are of such great drama which you don’t just see in films but in novels as well. Storytellers are always looking for where the interesting stories are— the stories of great conflict and drama demands conflict— between rich and poor, male or female, young and old and all different kinds. And it’s expressed in such passion in many levels of Indian society. I can see why people are attracted to that. But I think especially now there are so many strong virtues between India and many people who have an Indian background but live overseas — Canada, US, Australia, the Gulf, East Africa, all over the world, there is vast Indian diaspora and they have carried some of those stories with them and in fact people like Mira Nair are telling the stories of the diaspora itself,” he said.

This year, IFFI has chosen Canada as the Focus Country. Through this category, prominent films made by the selected country are screened at the festival in order to promote its cinema. When we think of Canadian cinema, the first director that comes to mind is Deepa Mehta, who is Canada’s most successful woman filmmaker. However, the internationally acclaimed director has often said how India, the country of her birthplace, gives her inspiration for her movies. Indeed, India has been the backdrop for many international films- from Gandhi, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Slumdog Millionaire to Lion.

When asked if they’d be consulting Mehta for any suggestions, Bailey says, “Deepa was one of our board of members at TIFF for many many years. Richie Mehta (director) is a friend and I know he has got some projects that he’s trying to develop here. He’s one of those people who is taking advantage of the 'Co-production Treaty' which was signed in 2014 between India and Canada. I know there are projects that are underway it’s very complicated. You really need a team of lawyers to work at a co-production well. The way films are being made here is totally different. This is largely a private industry, while Canada is largely a public-funded industry. There’s a different sort of tax laws which need to be navigated as well. The speed of production is totally different. So all of those things have to be lined before a project can be made. There’s an extra work but the payoff is worth it in the long run.“

Canada is the birthplace of many Hollywood A-listers such as Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey and Rachel McAdams. However, the country has so far been unable to generate a “homegrown Canadian star” for itself and now it looks like Indian actors are getting the full advantage of it.

“Our Canadian stars typically at certain point go out. It’s very easy to cross the border into US and so we have Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey and many other stars. These are people who were born in Canada, trained in Canada for the most part and then sought greater success. We’re small country, we’re small industry compared to the US or India. What’s interesting to me is that there are Indian stars who are now being seen as very popular in Canada. So, Priyanka Chopra was our guest at TIFF last year. She’s very well-known in Canada now because of her movies and TV show Quantico. So that combination is beginning to pay off.”

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