India, NEWS — 05/19/2012 6:40 AM

Empty halls greet docu-films (The Hindu Business)

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It’s touted as Asia’s first dedicated screen for documentary films. But two weeks after the State-run Nandan cine-complex in Kolkata began screening documentaries, the response has been far from encouraging.

By Abhishek Law
Kolkata, May 17

According to reports, in the first two weeks of screenings, only about 25 viewers turned up for each show in a 200-seater hall.

Documentaries are screened every weekend at Nandan. According to a senior official, there were 20-odd people for the first such screening on May 5 this year.

“The initial response might have been slow because of the IPL season. But ticket sales will pick up in coming weeks,” a hopeful Mr Jadav Mondal, chief executive officer, Nandan, said.

The concept of commercial screening of documentaries, common in cities such as Berlin or London, is supported by a smaller auditorium having a seating capacity for 50-odd people. At Nandan-II, bookings for the weekend documentary start on Friday and tickets are priced at Rs 30 only. While proceeds from ticket sales are expected to be shared with directors, the sale of DVDs from the venue is also permitted.

Audience and Marketing

Market sources point out that the last documentary to have tasted commercial success in the city was Michael Moore’s 2004 production, “Fahrenheit 9/11”. The movie was screened in multiplexes as well as standalone halls.

“It (Fahrenheit 9/11) was on a subject known to all,” Mr Arijit Dutta, MD, Priya Entertainments, film distributors and owners of Priya and Bioscope brand of multi-screens, said. “Why should a single screen hall or multiplex go for documentaries? There is hardly any market for these films here,” he adds.

According to Mr Dutta, there needs to be a strong marketing effort around short films or documentaries if they are to be made commercially viable as feature films.

Neglected genre

Ms Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, a documentary film-maker, rues the lack of attention the genre gets. “In European cities there are dedicated halls and shows are nearly houseful,” she said adding that “the culture of watching short films or documentaries needs to be developed for commercial viability to come in.”

Fahrenheit 9/11′s success, she said, has reiterated the fact that there is an audience for such films. “Private channels hardly air documentaries. It’s just Doordarshan which has a slot for such genres,” she said.

SOURCE: The Hindu Business

ON ADN website:

. Exclusive screen for documentaries and short films in India (indiatimes.com)

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