“A dedicated half-an-hour slot for screening of documentary films on Doordarshan every Sunday morning, all set to be launched in January 2012, is a great initiative and opens a world of opportunity for documentary and short filmmakers”, said filmmaker Mike Pandey here on Saturday.

Mr. Pandey, also the president of the Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA), added that the IDPA is in negotiations with the Centre for a dedicated documentary channel in all regions which can ride piggy-back on Doordarshan to reach around 800 million people. .

He was addressing a press conference, along with IDPA general secretary Sanskar Desai, at the media centre of the 42nd International Film Festival of India.

“We need banks to support passionate film-makers with loans and the Government to lower import duties for filmmaking equipment. And from our side, we need to make good, powerful films that have an impact,” said Mr. Pandey.

The IDPA has entered into an agreement with Doordarshan to telecast award-winning and acclaimed documentaries, short fiction and animation films at prime time. These films will be telecast on Doordarshan channels — National Channel, DD News, DD Bharati, and the international DD India — over the next five years.

The films will be acquired or commissioned by the IDPA from independent producers and cover a range of social issues. The memorandum of understanding was facilitated by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

The IDPA is one of the oldest film associations to be set up and has been guided by a galaxy of filmmakers and producers such as Satyajit Ray, Paul Zils, Shyam Benegal, Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Manmohan Shetty among others.

“Documentaries are an agent of change, especially their impact in a country like India where 67 per cent of the 1.25 billion population still does not have an access to education and needs to be empowered,” noted Mr. Pandey as he highlighted the importance of documentary and short films as an effective medium in this task.

Mr. Pandey disclosed that they had requested the Planning Commission to substantially raise the budget for good short films and documentaries and asked the government to modify some “archaic guidelines” to remove the stumbling blocks in the way of good film producers.

He appealed to cinema exhibitors, distributors and the government to ensure that the mandatory slot for documentaries in cinema houses was effectively utilised. “If this does not happen, then the IDPA would be compelled to pursue the matter once again legally through the Supreme Court as part of its struggle,” he said.

As ‘knowledge-partners' to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the IDPA has decided to take IFFI panorama films, short films and documentaries, representative of diverse Indian regional cinema, to all parts of the country and the world.

Plans are on to hold film festivals and workshops in universities across the country where these films will be screened and information shared. Some fellowships will also be offered.

In the second phase, the IDPA proposes to take these films to villages through schools and a network of 4600 ‘nature clubs' across the country.