“Language is no barrier” – Don Askarian
International Jury Members media interaction
Mumbai, February 02, 2016
Three of the five members of the international competition jury came up to the Media Centre , met members of the press, and answered various questions related to their experience at MIFF. Mr. Don Askarian a German film-maker of Armenian origin whose award-winning films are being screened at MIFF, Mr. Jesper Anderson from Denmark is a journalist and film curator, and Ms. Gitanjali Rao, an awarded animator, who, too, has a package being screened at MIFF.
Jumping directly into a Q & A, the trio invited questions from media-persons. Mr. Andersen, who has visited India many times and organises Indian film festivals in Copenhagen, was asked about the standard of films he saw as a jury-member. “I found the long documentaries the most impressive. Short documentaries and short fiction films were not so strong. One way of avoiding this would be: by not waiting for entries to come, on their own. Instead, MIFF, budget permitting, could engage curators, who would look around internationally, for the best on offer. I am willing to scout for the best films from my region, the Scandinavian countries”, he volunteered.
Ms. Gita was asked about her feelings on becoming a member of the jury at a festival where she has won the Golden Conch, and where a retrospective of her films is currently being held. “What can I say? It is a great feeling! Till about ten years ago, Indian animators and documentary film-makers were applauded in India only after they had won international recognition. All that is changing now.” When a question was put to her about world and Indian standards in documentary film-making, as experienced through viewing the 37 odd films she saw at MIFF 2016, she said, “I would need to see many more films to comment authoritatively. But in general, I feel international documentaries have not changed much in the last 8-10 years, whereas the Indian documentary is indeed adopting a more international style. Since Indian film schools like the Film and Television Institute of India and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute do not teach documentary film-making in particular, makers either followed the only available model, the Films Division formula, while others went just by their instinct. Having said that, the new age Indian documentaries are highly passionate, and are still very Indian.”
Elaborating on the financing scenario in Europe, Mr. Askarian said, “Documentary film-making is entirely funded by TV channels and various funds, including funds for films of ‘third world’ countries. Language is no barrier, but you must get your laws and history right. And make sure you teach yourself good film-making. Learn from films. Learn from Stanley Kubrick. Some great films are like teaching books, so log on to You Tube. Before looking for finance, make a very good film. You cannot lie to all the people all the time, and running around with a piece of rubbish will not get you finance.”
Mr. Anderson and Ms. Rao were asked about exhibition options for documentaries. In Denmark, Mr. Anderson pointed-out, documentaries were screened on national TV once a week. “In addition to this, we have had some documentaries releasing in cinemas too.” Ms. Rao said she was happy that at least some TV channels, both government and private, were showing documentaries. “But what about animation films? Most animation films are just 3-4 minutes long, yet cost a lot; not many achieve excellence, though they take years to make. Sadly, TV channels do not find them viable, in terms of scheduling. They would need thousands of animation films to sustain a daily slot. I earnestly hope that the government addresses this issue.”
Jury member (International) Ms. Gitanjali Rao, Mr. Don Askarian and Mr. Jesper Anderson interacted with the media at MIFF Media Centre on February 02, 2016.