Cannes to launch a new era of International Indian Filmmaking: No Indian film has competed for the Palme d’Or since Shaji N. Karun’s “Swaham” (My Own) in 1994. However, this year marks the end of their long absence, as Payal Kapadia’s “All We Imagine As Light” is gunning for glory. Kapadia is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival; her documentary “A Night of Knowing Nothing” won the Golden Eye award for Best Documentary in 2021, and her 2017 film “Afternoon Clouds” was the only film selected for the festival that year. The road-trip movie following two nurses will premiere on Thursday, the 23rd, hoping to wow both critics and industry professionals.

Cannes Pioneering a New Wave in International Indian Filmmaking

Joining “All We Imagine As Light” at Cannes is Sandhya Suris’s drama Santosh, competing in Un Certain Regard, and Karan Kandhris’s Sister Midnight, which will premiere at the Directors’ fortnight. Producers in India hope that this is but the first in a new era of Indian filmmaking, one in which Indian films are exported to wider international markets.

To do so, India is focused on pitching itself as a major production location for films, and the “Film in India” scheme has been revised to where 40% of a film’s production can be rebated for films with a budget of up to $3.6 million (a $600,000 increase from the previous plan debuted two years ago). This is major news. Sanjay Jaju, secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, argues that “India has all the right resources” to become a major player in the global film market.

On top of the production rebate, India is hoping to take advantage of their production agreements with sixteen countries across the world: France, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Russia, Spain, and the UK, through its introduction of a “single window.” This is a strategy that will allow producers to film in the slew of exotic cinematic locations India has to offer without having to go through the complex bureaucracy productions previously had to go through. Prithul Kumar, joint secretary for the Ministery of Information and Broadcasting, explained that they have “taken steps to ease the process of application for filming permits.”

The Indian film industry is already one of the biggest in the world, producing as many as 2,000 features every year, but with these new schemes, they hope that international filming in India won’t be limited to Netflix’s 2023 Extraction but rather launch a new era for exciting and diverse Indian filmmaking. Whilst it is very inspiring to see India’s increased presence at Cannes this year – we can only hope that this will guide the way toward India being a leading player in global filmmaking.

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