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Why Can't You Promote Indian Films Internationally More, Asks Academy President John Bailey

India, which has been sending films for Oscar consideration since 1957, is yet to win a trophy in the category though there have been individual victories for Bhanu Athiya, A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty.

PTI

Updated:May 29, 2019, 8:54 AM IST
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Why Can't You Promote Indian Films Internationally More, Asks Academy President John Bailey
John Bailey, the President of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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Italy and France have 26 wins between them in the best foreign film Oscars but with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) increasing its "international engagement", the trend is changing, Academy president John Bailey said on Tuesday.

India, which has been sending films for Oscar consideration since 1957, is yet to win a trophy in the category though there have been individual victories for Bhanu Athiya, A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty.

Only three Indian films -- "Mother India", "Salaam Bombay" and "Lagaan" -- have been nominated in the segment which was renamed as best international feature film category. "I think we are in a very rich period of international engagement. In the past, there have been tremendous numbers of Eurocentric (wins). But there are multiple reasons for that, which have nothing to do with India," Bailey said in a press conference while responding to a question about Indian films not faring well at Oscars.

"If you go back, what we used to call the Foreign Language Film, the award has a rich history. It started in 1947. Before it was an established category, it was an honorary Oscar. Films like 'Bicycle Thieves' and 'Shoe-Shine', were all Italian neo-realist films. 'Rashomon' in 1950, was a Japanese post war film. That was not Eurocentric but, there's been a rich history," he added.

Bailey also noted that in the initial years, there were very few countries that sent their films for Oscar consideration.

"There was not a whole wide non-European exposure or submission that has continued to grow. A year ago, 92 or 93 countries submitted films. This past year, there were 89 countries. We fully expect that it's going to be 100 countries."

Bailey said in the last decade, "there has been very, very rich exposure of non-European films that have been nominated and honoured".

"I don't buy the argument about (Oscars being) Eurocentric. I think it's diminishing... Every year, we are seeing more and more countries make magnificent films that just make us stand back and look in awe."

Asked to clarify his earlier comment, where he claimed that he has little exposure to Indian cinema, Bailey said the country's films are not distributed well outside the South Asian region.

"There aren't many places to see Indian cinema. And all I can say is that, whatever the reason may be, they're not available to see. I don't mean to be rude. But I mean, why are indian films not broadly shown? Not just in Hollywood or in the United States, I know they're very popular in China. So they're popular in large areas of Asia. Do they not cross the Pacific? Do they not get to Europe? So the question that needs to be asked is why can't you promote Indian films internationally more?"

The Academy president said Indian filmmakers also need to introspect about whether their films are able to engage the international audiences.

"The other question you might ask is, are films or the films that we're submitting, are those films that speak to other countries, outside of Southeast Asia? I don't know. I don't have a perspective on it. But I think, the most important thing you can do is have an internal dialogue here about what you can do among yourselves to support your best films," Bailey added.

The Academy president, who is currently on a trip to India with wife Carol Littleton, participated in a special interactive session along with Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi and Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

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