05 October, 2008

3 "World Cinema" channels to be on-air by next year, filmbuffs will be the king

UTV World Movies started beaming European films in the country in February this year. It was the first 24 hours channel dedicated to world cinema. The channel is run by one of the biggest media conglomerate in India, UTV.

About three months from its launch the channel claimed to be number three in terms of TRP among English language channels (World Movies broadcasts films with English subtitles).

About six months down the line, India is getting ready for a second World Cinema channel-NDTV Lumiere. It's a venture of another leading broadcaster NDTV group in partnership with two individual entrepreneur who have experience in film production, exhibition and processing.

NDTV Lumiere has already been releasing films in theatres across three cities. They've recently launched their first set of ten DVDs.

According to sources the channel has already started testing signals and will be on air by end of the month.

Meanwhile, another distributor of world cinema in India, Palador, pioneers of the segment with a enviable library of 1,000 titles is also gearing up to launch a World Cinema channel. According to reports, it will be on air by end of first quarter of next year.

Palador has already been broadcasting films from their collection on leading movies channel "Zee Studio". They recently organized Ingmar Bergman retrospective across Indian cities.

So, hopefully by next year, world cinema broadcasters will be fighting from eyeballs. The result of the competition between three players has already started showing up. The latest award winners from International Festivals are available here on different platforms.

And very soon, Indian filmbuffs, who envied their American friends for Netflix and criterion collection will have three films anytime on television to choose from besides DVDs and theatrical releases.

08 September, 2008

Witnessing the "World Cinema" Revolution in India

Last week director Shekhar Kapoor (Elizabeth) unveiled a collection of 10 DVDs in Mumbai. It wasn't one of those star-studded evenings in the commercial film capital of India, and the difference did not end here! All ten films were European, Latin American and Asian titles.

India is witnessing a revolution of sort: Films from Europe and especially European festivals are now becoming readily available, in some cases just few months after their festival run. No, I'm not talking about film festivals and film societies, who have traditionally been making these films available to the discerning audience for the last half of the century.

This time, the "revolution" is led by corporates. UTV, a leading media conglomerate with interests in film production, distribution, broadcast and gaming, started a 24 hours channel "World Movies" in February this year. This channel started airing international films many of them European classics such as Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy.

NDTV, another important corporate media house has started a venture to serve the world cinema lovers in India. NDTV Lumiere (name derived from the pioneers of film technology French brothers -Auguste and Louis, who brought cinema to India and exhibited their first films in Bombay in 1896) has already built a library of more than 350 films consisting of mainly contemporary European cinema. Ten releases on DVDs were the first from the company in this format. For last three months company has been releasing films in multiplexes in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and plans to launch a television channel by next month.

Early this year, Palador Pictures, a homegrown distributor released Fran├žois Truffaut collection on DVD, followed by Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and many others. The company boasts of a library of 1000 titles and plans to release them on DVDs in a phased manner.

All these three companies, collectively hold rights of about 2000 international film titles, which are ready to hit market in multiple platforms--theatres, DVDs, television and DTH.

India hasn't seen such an activity in this segment before. On the contrary, the segment didn't even exist a year before and was considered a space for non profit festivals and societies.

It's actually an exciting time to be in India for a filmbuff.