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Celebrating its 10th edition this year, the annual NFDC Film Bazaar has become a beacon for budding filmmakers from South Asia

The Changing Face of Indian Independent Cinema

Since its launch in 2007, Film Bazaar has heralded the rise of independent cinema. An array of titles like The Lunchbox That Girl In Yellow Boots,  Love Sex Aur DhokaDeoolShanghaiThe Good Road, Thithi, Chauthi KootMargarita With A Straw and Lipstick Under My Burkha have brought to the world a refreshing new perspective on cinema from the Indian subcontinent.

Besides receiving international acclaim and premieres at prestigious international film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Berlin and Venice, many films that began their journey at Film Bazaar have also had commercial releases in India.

A veritable milestone for independent cinema, several films have been picked up by renowned Indian and international film studios, such as Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Titli being released by Yash Raj Films, UTV releasing Ship of Theseus and The Lunchbox, Viacom releasing Manjunath and Zee releasing the Marathi film Killa.

Crunching The Numbers: 2007-2016

Starting off back in 2007 as a first-of-its-kind market in India, Film Bazaar’s first edition spanned 3 days and had 45 international delegates, 298 national delegates and 18 participating countries.  In 2010, Film Bazaar upped the ante by opening up to films from the whole subcontinent, including Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, making it an inclusive platform for all South Asian films. The breakdown of the 10-year journey of NFDC Film Bazaar is as follows:


  • Film Bazaar started in 2007 with 45 International delegates, 298 national delegates and 18 participating countries. This edition had a total of 22 projects.
  • The Screenwriters’ Lab (SWL), as we know it today, was then started as the Screenwriters’ Block.
  • Mentors at the first edition included filmmakers and academicians like Danish Tanovic (No Man’s Land), Bernd Lichtenberg (Goodbye Lenin), Olivia Hetreed (Girl With A Pearl Earring), Shaji Karun (Piravi, Vanaprasthan), Anjum Rajabali (scriptwriter) and Ashwini Malik (scriptwriter and faculty member, FTII).


  • The Work-In-Progress (WIP) Lab was introduced with the aim of obtaining an objective overview and suggestions of international mentors on films that are in a rough-cut stage.


  • The Screenwriters’ Lab first entered into a partnership with the Locarno International Film Festival, so that the writers could acquaint themselves with international film festivals and markets. The workshop was held in two stages with a gap of a few months to facilitate a revision of the draft. The first phase of three days was at the Locarno International Film Festival and the second phase in Goa, for five days prior to Film Bazaar.
  • The Work-In-Progress Lab had mentors like Derek Malcolm (Former Critic, The Guardian, UK), Darrell Roodt (Director, Writer & Producer) and Olivia Stewart (Script Advisor).
  • NFDC established a partnership with Prime Exchange Germany for the Prime Exchange Workshop funded by Media International.


  • Film Bazaar was expanded to make it a South Asian Market, a significant step in the growth of the event. As an introductory year, Film Bazaar presented projects from the SAARC Nations, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Three digital theatres were set up for the first time in Film Bazaar, in association with UFO Movies. The registered delegates/ filmmakers get an opportunity to book an industry screening for potential buyers, sales agent, distributors, festival directors/programmers and other industry professionals.
  • The Knowledge Series speakers included Rajkumar Hirani, Marco Mueller and Phil Parker. The Masterclass with Fatih Akin was conducted by Anurag Kashyap.


  • Screenwriters Lab entered into partnership with the Venice International Film Festival. Marten Rabarts (Lab Head & Script Advisor), Bianca Taal (Industry Advisor), Olivia Stewart (Script Advisor) and Urmi Juvekar (Screenwriter& Script Advisor) were the mentors for the Screenwriters’ Lab. The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra) and Dum Laga Ke Haisha (Sharat Katariya) were part of this Lab.
  • ‘Incredible India’ came on board as the official partner, and promoted India as a filming destination. Film locations play a critical role in determining tourist traffic both from India and abroad.
  • Knowledge Series conducted sessions moderated by Shubhra Gupta, Zoya Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Sanjay Suri and Kalki Koechlin. It also had a session with Cedomir Kolar, producer of the Academy Award winning film, No Man’s Land.
  • Screening Room (now Viewing Room) was first set up with an aim to present films seeking finishing funds, world sales, distribution partners and film festivals.The films are viewed on individual computer terminals in private booths via specially designed Viewing Room software. Film programmers, distributors, world sales agents and investors can watch complete films as well as films that are awaiting completion. They can access details about the respective projects as well as contact the filmmakers through this software.


  • Marten Rabarts (Script Lab Head/Script Advisor Head of Training & Development, NFDC), Bianca Taal (Industry Advisor & Programmer, International Film Festival Rotterdam), Olivia Stewart (Script Advisor, Producer/ Writer) and Urmi Juverkar (Screenwriter & Script Advisor) were the mentors for the Screenwriters’ Lab.
  • The mentors for the Work-In-Progress Lab consisted of Chris Paton (Senior Vice-President, Acquisitions & Development Fortissimo Films, Netherlands), Sudhir Mishra (Film Director & Screenwriter, India)
    and Phillipa Campbell (Producer,
    New Zealand).


  • Producers’ Lab was introduced with an aim to educate and empower more and more independent producers. The idea was to allow the participants to acquire the necessary skill set to develop the independent film ecosystem. In addition, the aim was for independent producers to learn as much as they could about international funds, co-production, festivals and markets.
  • The Knowledge Series had speakers like Farhan Akhtar, Thierry Fremaux (Delegate General, Festival de Cannes) and Sudhir Mishra, who spoke on a variety of topics such as the role of a sales agent and latest cinema releasing strategies. Present trends in Indian cinema were also covered.


  • Romance Screenwriters’ Lab, Film Bazaar, in association with Harlequin, introduced the first-ever Romance Screenwriters’ Lab, which focused on developing scripts based on romance and women-centric plots. The lab was held in three stages and the participants were mentored by three eminent people from Indian film industry – Bhavani Iyer, Habib Faisal and Girish Joshi.
  • Screenwriters’ Lab partnered with the Sarajevo Film Festival and the six writers travelled to Sarajevo for the first lab session.
  • The documentary Work-In-Progress Lab was introduced this year.
  • Investor Pitch was set up with an aim to provide a platform for the curated and mentored film projects that are in various stages of development/completion to pitch to financiers who are looking to back independent film projects. The idea is also to bring top investors and production houses to attend these sessions so that the projects get maximum visibility and have possibility of investors coming on board these projects in order to finance their production or completion or P&A requirements.
  • Film Offices were set up for the first time at Film Bazaar 2014 with an objective of connecting Indian state tourism bodies and international film commissions with Indian filmmakers.
  • The Knowledge Series featured panelists like Karan Johar, Rohan Sippy, Ritesh Batra, Anurag Basu and Vishal Bharadwaj.


  • There were new segments created in Screenwriters’ Lab, which were Children & Young Adult and Romance.
  • Two projects from the Screenwriters’ Lab for Children’s – Lottery Ticket by Sagarika Banik and Adventures of Kaka & Kiki by Shreyas Thathachar – were invited to participate in the co-production market at the Financing Forum, Malmo, Sweden.
  • Film Tourism Workshop: This edition of Film Bazaar hosted its first-ever Film Tourism Workshop. It was held two days prior to Film Bazaar, to promote film tourism and India as a filming destination.
  • Film Facilitation Office: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, along with National Film Development Corporation, launched a Film Facilitation Office at Film Bazaar.
  • Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari, popularly known as Film City, Mumbai, partnered with Film Bazaar, to showcase and promote nine Marathi films  in the sections ‘Viewing Room’ and ‘Industry Screenings’.
  • CPM introduced Open Pitch where selected projects pitched their projects to the international film community. It received an overwhelming response.


  • Film Bazaar 2016 promises to be more exciting than ever, with several interactive arenas in the pipeline. Knowledge Series is conducting a special Sidebar dedicated to exploring Virtual Reality (VR) as a technology in great detail, following Shekhar Kapoor and Sudhir Mishra’s session last year on multiple film narratives developed with VR technology, and how VR lends itself to this unique way of storytelling.
  • FFO Workshop: The FFO plans to organise a one-day workshop at the forthcoming Film Bazaar with nodal officers appointed by various state governments and central government ministries / departments / agencies to act as the one-point contact for easing the process of filming in their respective jurisdictions. The proposed workshop will aim to hold focused interactive sessions conducted byw international producers who have had an interest in filming in India or have previously shot in India and are going to be a part of Film Bazaar.
  • Film Bazaar 2016 has received a whopping 200 entries for Viewing Room this year, the highest ever so far.
  • Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari, popularly known as Film City, Mumbai, is collaborating with Film Bazaar, and showcasing ten Marathi films (Sairat, Natsamrat, Half Ticket, Double Seat, Halal, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, Bernie, Saha Gun, Daagdi Chaawl and Koti) in the sections ‘Viewing Room’ and ‘Industry Screenings’.
  • Gujarat Tourism has collaborated with the 10th edition of NFDC’s Film Bazaar as a state partner to promote itself as a film-friendly destination. The state, which received the National Award for ‘Most Film-Friendly State’ last year, participated in Film Bazaar for the first time in 2012, and took up a film office in 2015 to promote Gujarat as filming destination.
  • Screenwriters’ Lab for children’s content is being supported by NFDC and Dutch Culture. The writers visited Cinekid, a premier children’s film festival in Amsterdam.
  • The Co-Production Market has introduced video pitching in Open Pitch. This will enable filmmakers to offer a glimpse into the world of their projects.In a nutshell, the growing response over the years has been immensely encouraging, and indicates that we can look forward to an excellent turnout of national and international delegates in the upcoming edition.
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