Festival Director Rahil Abbas talks about forthcoming Cardiff International Film Festival that premieres Ram Kamal’s Season’s Greetings.
What is your take on Indian cinema in global platform?
Indian cinema is going through one of its best phase in creating content driven films. There is a need and scope for these films to reach global audience. At Cardiff International Film Festival we are playing this humble role of providing a platform for this new gen Indian cinema.
Nawazuddin Sidiqque is also a jury member and he is winning an award at the Festival. Tell us something more about the award.
Golden Dragon Award is awarded for excellence in Film and TV. In 2018 Startrek creator Marc Zicree was the recipient of Golden Dragon , and this year who better deserving than Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He is doing some of the best work in India, from Sacred Games to Thackrey, his has shown wide variety as an actor.
Dame Judi Dench is also receiving Lifetime Achievement Award at the Festival, why did the festival decide to choose her and are you screening of her films at the Festival?
It’s an honour to have Dame Judi Dench receive the life time achievement award this year. Dame Judi Dench is not just a National Treasure in UK but a global icon. Unfortunately, we will not be screening any of her films.
Indian filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee seems to be the only director with two films Cakewalk and Season’s Greetings to be screened at Cardiff international film Festival. Tell us something about your take on his films?
As mentioned earlier, India is creating great content highlighting social issues.
I have seen Ram Kamal’s short film Cakewalk and feature A Tribute to Rituparno Ghosh: Season’s Greetings, and I feel that he has made a great films and we are looking forward to present his film to a global audience. I also feel that Season’s Greetings is a global film and one can easily relate.
You are promoting good cinema for global audience, how did this journey begin? Tell us something about your challenges?
Cardiff International Film Festival is growing , and so is the audience. Our audience range from USA, UK, Europe, Africa, China and of course India. Cardiff as a nation awaits with open arms to welcome the films and audience from around the world. The journey has been full of challenges but what is not? We keep moving in the right direction and create a festival for everyone. The biggest challenge we have is logistics of over 6000 visitors we get from around the world and to ensure they have a wonderful time at CIFF. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing team and they all work meticulously to ensure smooth running of the festival over four days.
Ram Kamal’s film Season’s Greetings will be streaming on Zee5 Premium, while Nawazuddin’s Sacred Games is streaming on Netflix, you think global festivals are opening up to digital content along with mainstream cinema?
Digital is the future. Infact cinema are mostly for blockbusters, people spend more time now watching content digitally. Its great to see films like Cakewalk and Season Greetings are finding their true audience digitally through platforms like Zee5, Amazon, Netflix, Hotstar and Voot. And I guess we are in a state where content is more important and anything that’s appealing to audience will be accepted world wide.
You think there are enough Indian or Asian audience in Cardiff who would be interested in watching Indian or Asian content in a festival or your prefer to focus on British and American cinema?
There is an audience for every film. I think the way people see cinema now has changed, and language and culture is less of a barrier now. At Cardiff International Film Festival we focus on good cinema , irrespective of where it comes from.
How did you get involved with this Festival. Tell us something about your choice of cinema?
I always felt that Cardiff as a city has a great potential to host global events. Sports events like UEFA Champions League , Anthony Joshua Boxing fight nights attracts 100,000s visitors to Cardiff. But there was nothing in Cardiff for films that would attract audience from around the world. That is a gap we aim to fill through Cardiff International Film Festival. Thes festival is already becoming a go to film festival. Like of Anurag Kashyap, Marc Zicree, Joe Fererra , Disney , Warner Bros, and many others are a regulars at the festival.
I enjoy films that I can take something back from. There is a lot of great content digitally on Netflix , Amazon Prime etc.. I really enjoyed Money Heist (In Spanish) recently. Andhadhun and Stree were great films.
You have an extremely photogenic face, have you tried your hand in acting also?
If something interesting comes my way I will definitely consider. The last film I did was Manana ( Tomorrow in English), which won the best film at Los Angeles Film Festival and Texas International Film Festival. I will wait for the next existing offer , when it arrives.
You think these festivals provide right platform for indie filmmakers to network and raise funds for their future films. Can you give some success stories?
Most definitely . Festivals are very important for film makers , not just indie but all. They provide an audience but also opens them to the market – distributors , investors , sales agent etc. I would recommend every film no matter how small a film. There is a festival for everyone. At CIFF – we have had our share of success stories . Say My Name – Winner of Welsh Film was bough by Dean Devilin’s Electric Entertainment. Amy and Sophia got North American Distribution. Other film makers have gone on to secure funding for future projects.