Melbourne film fest replete with re-runs, says Jude Perera

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Hindi language films dominate; emerging Indian movie-makers nowhere in the picture.

Melbourne’s Indian Film Festival showed a host of classic Bollywood hits in May to celebrate the Centenary of Indian Cinema, but not everyone was happy with the selection.

Member for Cranbourne Jude Perera said he had received numerous complaints from members of the community, who were upset that the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne recycled old films instead of supporting the work of emerging Indian artists.

Perera said people were also upset about the dominance of Hindi language films in the festival.

“It was brought to my attention that of the films screened in 2012, 50 per cent were Hindi movies; that percentage has gone up to 65 percent in the 2013 festvial,” Perera said in parliament on 30 October.

“Every other language is represented by a share of less than six per cent,” he added.

Perera said Tamil films made up 5.17 per cent of those screened, Punjabi 3.45 per cent, Gujurati 1.72 per cent and Malayalam 1.72 per cent , while Telugu was not featured at all, despite having a huge film industry in India.
In 2011, the Ballieu government launched a $450,000 tender for the festival, now in its second year, to foster closer ties between Victoria and India.

Perera said the point of film festivals was to provide a platform for the cinematic skills of those who do not have the opportunity to show their films in the commercial sector.

“The best way to develop closer ties with the Indian subcontinent is to provide a platform for Indian artists, not to recycle films already screened commercially and sitting in somebody’s garage,” he said.

“A number of films screened as part of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in 2013 were recycled. This is a clear breach of the tender conditions, and if the minister is not prepared to disclose the selection process, unfortunately the community will be led to believe that this is a cover-up by the Napthine government,” he added.

Perera said he first raised the issues in parliament four months ago, shortly after the festival that ran from 3 May to 22 May, and was committed to getting an answer from the Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louis Asher.

The festival is directed by Mitu Bhowmick Lange, who is also director of Mind Blowing Films, a Melbourne-based film house that is the largest distributor of Indian films in Australia and New Zealand.

According to the festival website, Lange worked in Bombay for six years as a director on TV shows, wrote and directed the award-winning documentary Watch Without Prejudice, and has produced several Indian productions in Australia since moving here from India.

She also curates Australian and New Zealand films for the annual International Film Festival of India, held in Goa.

The Indian Sun contacted Lange to enquire about the selection process, but did not receive a reply before publishing.

According to the tender, Melbourne’s Indian Film Festival is due to run until 2014.

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