In the 16 years since the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) was first started in 1990, it has undergone many changes over the years. Though we covered this year’s MIFF in our previous post, and gave a general overview of what made this year so special, we were also lucky enough to talk to Ms. Smita Vats Sharma, the Films Division Director General and MIFF 2020 Director. Here is our interview with her.

In what way has MIFF grown over the years ever since it was conceived way back in 1990?

I should say MIFF has grown tremendously by leaps and bounds and is one of the largest festivals devoted to the growth of nonfiction filmmaking in South East Asia for short films, documentaries as well as animation films.. I would like to take no credit for the achievement, as it is a legacy left behind by people who have come before me and painstakingly curated the festival every alternate year since 1990.

What has been your contribution to take the festival ahead?

All that I can say humbly is that it is for me to the legacy a little forward and make programmes a little more in step with the changing times ahead of us. It is for the first time ever that MIFF has gone mobile. It is one of the focuses of MIFF this year to reach as many as possible with the various packages of films so that a lot more people benefit by it

What are the challenges faced by short, documentary and animation filmmakers all over the world, including India?

Documentaries reflect society values and heritage, which have been lovingly nurtured by our peer groups. Today the imperative need is to get through with our films to a large diversified audience and we face twin challenges. First is the need for funding for making niche films, which are not necessarily popular as they do not belong to the mainstream culture and the second is the need to get an audience, which is receptive to them and set out to watch such niche films. Both these are important equally for the filmmakers, as they are often flummoxed wondering whether they should only end up showing such films in various film festivals to limited audiences.

In what way is MIFF his year different?

We have decided to go into the digital space this year onwards. It is one of the innovative measures, which I could think of this year with MIFF 2020. We have also built in an audience’s poll into the App so that all can vote for the best film in the film festival this year. It is one way of creating a little more buzz in the market and help filmmakers. Mumbai is a huge city and hence we have taken our outreach activities to three different places in the suburbs of Mumbai too. At each place, we have screening schedules of 57 specially curated films of 16-hour duration for three days for not only the students but also the general public who can watch it free of charge. We have picked up the best of the old films. All the dimensions of filmmaking are shared with the students. The idea was to get as much audiences as possibly we could.

Antara Sarkar

With a Post Graduate in Marketing Management, and 14 years of corporate experience in General Insurance domain, Antara is based out of Delhi and shuttles across India for her work commitments. In order to pursue her higher education, she left home at the tender age of 16 and has stayed in different cities of India, allowing her to meet people from different backgrounds. As a voracious reader, traveller, and orator, Antara has always found the art of writing extremely therapeutic as it helps her channel her inner energy about various social issues.

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