Controversy first surfaced in October when Labor MP Jude Perera told parliament he had receive numerous complaints from community members upset that the festival was screening old films instead of supporting emerging Indian artistes. Mr Perera said people were also upset about the dominance of Hindi language films. Local councillors backed the complaints and called for more community consultation in the development of the publicly funded festival.
With IFFM all set to go ahead again this year, bringing the best Bollywood booty shaking to Melbourne, The Indian Sun has spoken to minister for tourism and events Louise Asher’s office to clear up any lingering confusion about why the festival was extended and who in the community is involved in the consultation process. The following questions were answered by Ms Asher’s chief media advisor Russ Street in an e-mail response to The Indian Sun.
Why has the festival been extended and for how long?
Funding for the festival was initially allocated for three years (2012 to 2014). A further year’s funding has been made available to run the festival in 2015.
The festival has been extended on the basis of its performance in 2012 and 2013 and to provide a stronger basis for it to become a permanent part of Melbourne’s cultural calendar.
How was the review handled, leading to the extension?
Film Victoria has evaluated the performance of (film distribution company) Mind Blowing Films in delivering the festivals in both 2012 and 2013. Measures of success were derived from requirements set out in the tender—and included brand development, programming, attendance, sponsorship, funding, management and implementation.
The evaluations found that Mind Blowing Films had delivered high quality festivals in both 2012 and 2013 and had met all its contractual obligations within the specified budget.
The evaluation was the basis for the decision by Film Victoria to exercise an option to extend the festival to 2014. At the time, the contract with Mind Blowing Films was also varied to include an option for delivery of a festival in 2015, subject to continued achievement of performance.
Was there community consultation in the lead up to, or during the festival?
The Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV) is involved in delivery of the festival through its status as an IFFM partner.
What were the goals from the tender and have they been achieved?
The Government’s investment in establishing the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne has created a unique screen event for the state, comprising a curated package of films and related activities, and including industry focused events, such as master classes, forums and seminars. In both 2012 and 2013, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne has been successful in attracting many international industry guests, including Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapur, Mrs Pamela Chopra, Simi Garewal and Prabhudeva. The festival has also secured an outstanding ambassador in award-winning actress, Vidya Balan. The number and calibre of international guests hosted by the festival to date is evidence of the excellent international reputation that has been established for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne and the strength of the relationships between the Indian and Victorian screen industries. The 2013 festival program celebrated the centenary of Indian cinema by showcasing the range, depth and history of Indian cinema. It also featured retrospectives of Indian cinema greats Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan. Attendance targets at both ticketed and free events were exceeded.
The Government is delighted that Vidya Balan has indicated her intention to return as IFFM ambassador in 2014 and has every confidence that the 2014 festival will continue to enchant Victorian lovers of Indian culture and cinema