Film festivals go online, draw an overwhelming response too

Kerala chapter of FFSI mulls launch of OTT platform to generate revenue for independent filmmakers

S.R. Praveen
July 27, 2020 07:44 IST

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Novel platform: A scene from the Bengali film Aaha Re screened at the FFSI online film festival.

Most of the film society screenings in the post-Internet era meant a rented room, a makeshift screen, and less than hundred of its most dedicated members. With the COVID-19 pandemic making all such meetings impossible, the Kerala chapter of the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI) decided to launch an online film, documentary, and short film festival.

The response has been beyond the expectations of the federation that it has now begun mulling the launch of a possible Over The Top (OTT) screening platform to generate revenue for independent filmmakers. When the Tamil film

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Merkku Thodarchi Malai (Western Ghats), directed by Lenin Bharathi, was screened as the inaugural film of the festival on July 20, close to 4,000 people joined.

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The link and password for the day’s film is shared on the FFSI Keralam Facebook page at 7 p.m. every day and will be active for 24 hours, during which period it can be accessed for free. It is a model that was successfully implemented by the 10-day ‘We are One: a Global film festival’ organised in May, with contributions from major film festivals across the world.

Indian language movies

The FFSI film festival features independent films from Malayalam and other Indian languages, and 10 documentaries and short films over 10 days. In a year in which even opening of the cinemas is still not in consideration, more such online festivals could be on the way. “We were not expecting such a response when we began organising this festival. The publicity campaign for the festival was mainly through online platforms. With the involvement of all the film societies across Kerala, it did reach a wider audience, as 3,000 to 4,000 people have watched each film. When a film society organises a festival locally, the crowd is usually sparse, consisting of usual members. With this online festival, we have realised that we can even have a permanent OTT platform, with nominal amounts from viewers, which can be given to independent filmmakers,” says film critic V.K. Joseph, secretary of FFSI Keralam.

He says that the online festivals can continue in the future, parallelly with the regular ones.

The federation has also got suggestions to have specific days of screening , even after the ongoing festival gets over on July 29.

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