Maker of India's Oscar entry short of funds for promotion

Guwahati: Rima Das, the self-made director and producer of the shoe-string budget film ‘Village Rockstars’, which is India’s official entry to Oscars in foreign language category next year, is struggling to keep the dream of holding the golden statue alive for want of enough funds to run the campaign to draw attention of the over 6000-odd voters to be among the nine films in the next stage of nomination.

Rima Das said she would love to make a Hindi film

Filmmaker Rima Das, who is overjoyed as her Assamese film ‘Village Rockstars’ has been chosen as India’s official entry to the Academy Award’s best foreign language film category, says she would love to make a Hindi film.

Conservative estimates suggest she would require at least Rs 5 crore to run the campaign, often seen as massive as US Presidential election campaign. Where the big studios spend anything between US$3 million to 10 million for campaigning, the 37 years old Rima from Assam has in hand Rs 1 crore given to her by Assam government and Rs 80,000 pooled from crowd funding.

“I received Rs 1 crore from Assam government today and now at least I can pay a part to the publicist by October 14. I don’t what I’ll do next. I can’t compete in terms of money, but at the same time I don’t want to live the rest of life with one regret that I did not try to push my efforts,” she said.

Journalist-turned-filmmaker national award-winning film critic, an alumni of IIT-Roorkee and a jury member of IFFI, Utpal Borpujari explains why the campaign is necessary, particularly for those competing in foreign language category where the voters, mostly filmmakers and actors, from different countries will be voting.

“This time there are 87 entries in foreign category and there are about 5000-6000 members, each of who can vote for one film. There is no special screening for the jury and these members may not find time to watch each and every films for taking a decision. So here the campaigning comes into play to create the curiosity to watch a particular film. A film not watched presumably will not be voted by any member,” Borpujari said.

These members will first select nine films among which the final five nominations are picked up for the final winner.

In the main category, almost all films are Hollywood productions and yet the producers spend huge amounts on the campaigning to catch the attention of the voting members, who constitute the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

“It is tougher in foreign films category to catch the attention of the voting members. But, in some cases like the Cambodian entry ‘Graves Without a Name’, which is co-produced by Angelina Jolie or the Mexican entry ‘Roma’, which is directed by ‘Gravity’ famed Alfonso Cuarón Orozco or even the Japanese entry ‘Shoplifters’dirceted by internationally acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda, getting their films watched by the members is much more easier,” Borpujari said.

But, for now, Rima is depending on what she claimed the goodwill she has been able to create worldwide while screening her film at festivals, mainly in Toronto, Busan and at Cannes, world’s biggest film festival.

Rima Das’s independent film, Village Rockstars, is India’s official entry to the Oscars

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Rima Das's independent film, Village Rockstars, is India's official entry to the Oscars

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