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Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003

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Industry urged to promote children's films

K.V. Kurmanath


A WINDFALL: A group of street children stand in queue to enter the Prasad's Multiplex, the main venue of the 13th International Children's Film Festival in Hyderabad on Monday. - A. Roy Chowdhury

Hyderabad , Nov. 17

FESTIVAL after festival, filmmakers and film lovers wonder why children's films, in general, don't go well with general audiences and make good marketing appeal.

They make films, take part in international film festivals held across the globe and discuss the issue every year. But the answer remains elusive, with most of the films made for children failing to go beyond the festival screenings.

Mr Gulbahar Singh, a filmmaker, finds fault with the producers. "Companies carry out surveys before commencing production and marketing their products. Filmmakers do exactly the opposite. They make films and then look for promoting the product."

He was participating in a soul-searching discussion with Indian and foreign peers on `Global marketing and voluntary promotion of children's films' organised in the `Open Forum' on the sidelines of the 13th International Children's Film Festival.

According to him, marketing of children's films was no big deal provided schools and agencies come forward to promote these films.

"Say, there are one lakh schools in the country and each school shows a film every week for their students. Even if they pay a meagre Rs 200 for a film, it is going to be huge money."

Several students who participated in the debate bought the idea of watching the films in schools. "We hardly get to know when a film meant for us is released in the city," a class VI student complained.

"An answer to that question could be showing the films in schools. If we can bring them to festival theatres, why not take the movies to schools," Mr Singh wondered.

Mr Shiva Kumar, another filmmaker, said that making a film was not difficult but marketing it was very difficult.

Asking the filmmakers to focus on the marketing aspect as well, he said that the industry failed to tap both the foreign and domestic markets.

"Filmmakers should participate in international film festivals to expose their films to international audiences." He was irked by the absence of any marketing agency in the country to tap the domestic market.

Earlier, speaking to Business Line, Mr G. Narayana Rao, a veteran actor who played the lead role in the Tamil film, Rekkai (Wings) - featured in the Asian Panorama section at the fete - said that the best way to promote children's films was to build mini theatres in cities, each with a capacity of 100-150 seats.

"We do make children's films. But where can we show them? Certainly, we can't show them in regular theatres. Thanks to the absence of such infrastructure, we generally end up keeping the films only for film festivals."

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