The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC)’s recent decision not to accept any fresh application for film production will turn out to be a setback to the future of serious cinema movement in the country, feels the cinema fraternity in Thiruvananthpuram.

The decision of the central agency, financier and producer of many classic movies in various Indian languages, will shatter the dreams of a large number of fresh talent who wish to materialise their movie hopes with support of government money, they said.

NFDC, functioning under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, put up a notice on its official website last month, saying it, “has taken a decision to not accept applications for production of films with effect from June 14, 2013 till further notice.”

Though its officials said the decision was temporary and had been done to clear backlog, they did not give details about the number of pending productions and when the production would be restored.

Earlier, interested people could submit their applications round the year on NFDC’s website or at its offices. Eminent filmmaker and Dada Sahib Phalke award winner Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of the initial board members of the agency, said NFDC had been inactive for many years and placing of bureaucrats, having no connection with cinema, in key positions is one of the main reasons for its downturn. “Nobody gets shocked even if NFDC decides to stop producing films forever or winding up its activities. It has no connection with the film industry in the recent past,” he said.

“What they were doing in the past few years was just to conduct some seminars in the annual International Film Festival of India and attend Cannes festivals. The agency has not collaborated with any good films in recent years,” he told PTI.

Frequent changing of policies for allotting loans had distanced the agency from real cinema, the director said. “A board of film personnel, including me, recommended the formation of the agency decades back. I was also one among its initial board members. It was founded for a good cause. It seems that it has lost its direction,” Mr. Gopalakrishnan said.

National award-winning director-cinematographer Shaji N. Karun said the existing constitution of the agency should be restructured and film personalities rather than politicians be brought to its key positions to revive it. “The diversity of India had been reflected outside the country through films in different languages once. NFDC could claim a real role in propagating that diversity by promoting regional language films. The absence of an intellectual and sensible leadership has pushed the agency to its present condition,” Mr. Karun said.

NFDC was a glorious concept and any kind of its ruin would lead to the collapse of serious cinema movement in the country, the director said.

However, award winning director-script writer Anjali Menon, whose first feature film “Manjadikkuru” was co-produced by NFDC, said the resurgence of good cinema in the country is independent of NFDC today.

There was a time when the agency spearheaded the good cinema movement in India, Anjali Menon said. “Apparently its current activity is much more focused on Film Bazaar and international film markets rather than content production, but today the resurgence of good cinema in the country is independent of NFDC,” she said.

The primary goal of the Mumbai-based agency, established in 1975, is to plan, promote and organise an integrated and efficient development of the Indian film industry and nurture a remarkable parallel movie culture.

NFDC and its forerunner Film Finance Corporation have funded or produced around 300 films in various Indian languages. The agency, which has partnered with many eminent filmmakers, has large number of acclaimed movies to its credit like ‘Mirch Masala’, ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’, ‘Pestonjee’, ’Salaam Bombay’, ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’, ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan’.

It was the last asylum for those filmmakers, who wished to travel through a less trodden path, as it does not have any profit motive. But that hope would be lost forever with its latest decision, young filmmakers said.

Novin Vasudev, a city-based upcoming filmmaker who planned to submit a project to the agency, said he was shocked to see the “stop submit” notice on its official website.“NFDC is the only dependable funding agency for real movie makers who do not want their films to be commercialised.

As government is the producer and not a private individual, it grants us full freedom in the selection of subject, narration and expression. Such a freedom is the dream of every filmmaker. No private producer gives us the freedom,” he said.

The youngster, who has many short films and documentaries to his credit, said he and his partners had finalised a project on a socially relevant theme. But its recent decision shattered all hopes, he said.

Sources in NFDC told PTI that the IB Ministry had ordered an internal audit of the agency in view of irregularities and corruption reported in its operations and the current stoppage of film production was part of that.

There are also moves to make NFDC merge in the proposed Indian Film Commission, which is planned on the model of such bodies in foreign countries, a source said.