Beyond borders

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CHAT Canadian producer Niv Fichman is working towards an Indo-Canadian Film treaty. ANUJ KUMAR

Forging bonds Niv Fichman.
Forging bonds Niv Fichman.

R enowned Canadian producer Niv Fichman was in Indian recently. In the business for three decades,his Oscar winning film, “The Red Violin” continues to strike a chord with an audience who have a penchant for world cinema.

In fact, Fichman is known for his ability to collaborate with talents from different nationalities, proving cinema is an art form which is not limited by geographical boundaries. In India on a private visit, Fichman used the opportunity to make ground for an Indo-Canadian film treaty which could pave way for joint Indo-Canadian film productions.

Between India and Canada

“It is going to benefit both the industries. Canada has not only got great locations but it also has international talent in terms of production and acting. On the other hand, India is one of the biggest markets for cinema and the only industry that is thriving despite Hollywood. Canada has a massive population of Indian origin. They love to watch Bollywood films. If we could get financial benefit for collaborations, it would help both countries.”

He cites the example of Akhsay Kumar shooting one of his productions in Canada and Deepa Mehta has long been the face of Indo-Canadian partnership. Fichman finds Deepa's “Water”, which made it to the Oscars a landmark film. “It was essentially an Indian film but was a Canadian entry in the Academy Awards. Similarly ‘Juno' was also about Canadian mores but it was treated as an American film. Cinema is increasingly becoming a universal art form. I want to pick up the energy, the colour of Bollywood.”

Somebody, who has produced both commercial and art house cinema, Fichman believes the two forms should not be poles apart. If he has an epical “Passchendaele” to his credit, right now he is busy giving final touches to “Hobo With A Shotgun”. For the uninitiated, it is based on the “Grindhouse” (the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino film) trailer of the same name. “There should be a meeting point, but that doesn't mean the producer should tamper with the point of view of the director. I only share my years of experience with the director. I am present at the time of editing but having started as a director, my aim is to preserve the independence of the voice of my directors because this is what the audience wants now more than ever before.” But “Grindhouse” didn't turn out to be a commercial success? “Commercial success means different things in different countries. The trailer of ‘Hobo With A Shotgun' is already a success on You Tube. The director Jason Eisener is a 25-year-old, who has grown up on Internet. It is that kind of audience we are looking for.”

Fichman might consider “Water” a landmark film, but film critics in India didn't find it a nuanced work of art. She might have worked for an international audience but for Indians, Lisa Ray never appeared as an Indian widow. Sometimes co-productions are reduced to being glorified projects for the festival circuit. “I never looked at ‘Water' this way. But I can say that I have collaborated with Italian, Japanese and Brazilian creative teams and the films have done well in the local markets. As for the impact of film festivals, yes sometimes the film does get limited to the circuit but if your product is good and you don't have enough money to market your film, the festivals open new vistas for your film.”

Cinema is increasingly becoming a universal art form. I want to pick up the energy, the colour of Bollywood.



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