The Union ministry of information and broadcasting organized a special interactive session with John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in New Delhi, yesterday.
The event was attended by several top officials of the ministry, including Amit Khare, secretary; Prakash Magdum, director of the National Film Archive of India; Chaitanya Prasad, additional director general of the Directorate of Film Festivals; Central Board of Film Certification chairman Prasoon Joshi and Ujwal Nirgudkar, member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Bailey’s wife Carol Littleton, film editor and a member of the board of governors of the Academy (editors branch) accompanied her husband to the event.
In his welcome address, Prasoon Joshi emphasized the importance of film festivals in the context of the upcoming 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India. “Cinema is a collective art form,” he said. “You collectively create it. It’s also important that we promote collective viewing because it stirs up the imagination and creates new ideas.”
Amit Khare spoke of the immense diversity in the country and talent hidden in smaller places. He welcomed Bailey to India, saying, his visit “will give an opportunity for talented filmmakers to showcase their art to the world”. Khare also emphasized India’s regional film industries and the incentives offered by various states for filmmakers wanting to shoot there.
Calling his visit to India a “mind-expanding” experience, Bailey acknowledged that he and many of his colleagues know very little about Indian cinema. He spoke of the beginnings of Indian cinema and expressed his fascination with the fact that the industry began here at almost the same time that it did in the United States.
“I’m very embarrassed that my knowledge of Indian cinema is restricted to the films of Satyajit Ray and the ‘Bollywood’ films which are submitted to the Academy every year,” he said frankly.
BaIley, who has worked with renowned directors like John Schlesinger, Paul Schrader, Lawrence Kasdan, Wolfgang Petersen and Michael Apted, spoke of his work as a cinematographer and his partnership with wife Littleton as having been enriching experiences that allowed him to hone his craft.
“Cinema is not our profession, it’s our life,” he said, speaking of the many films that the husband-and-wife team have worked on together.
Bailey also spoke about the A2020 initiative wherein the goal is to double the membership in the Academy in terms of diversity. In the context of India, he said, “Discovering the diversity of Indian cinema… when the Academy is thinking of diversity, I can think of no country in the world that represents the opportunities and challenges of diversity and unifying us all than India.”
Littleton expressed her delight at their visit in India, saying, “This has been an extraordinary experience. A new world has opened up for John and myself.”
The couple indicated that they would like to see a greater number of Indian members as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.