The golden edition of the International Film Festival of India is also noted for its inclusiveness. Three films for those with special needs were screened at IFFI under the ‘Accessible India-Accessible Films’ section. Sakhsham Trust, a Delhi based NGO working in the field of empowerment of persons with blindness and low vision made this possible along with the collaboration of IFFI and UNESCO.
Accessibility of cinema was the central focus of discussion when the founders of Saksham Trust meet the press at a media conference organised at IFFI today. Saksham founders Dipendra Manocha, Rummi K. Seth, Officer on special duty, Directorate of Social Welfare, Goa government,Thaha Hazik and Technical expert Narendra Joshi explained the project undertaken by Sakhsam to make films inclusive for all. Director of animation film ‘Bombay Rose’ Smt Gitanjali Rao also participated in the press conference.
Saksham founder Dipendra Manocha said that making movies accessible to visually impaired people will send out the message of inclusion. “ Accessibility is not only about making buildings accessible. Movies are one of the best entertainment opportunities available for the society. Making movies accessible will create a whole experience of being part of society and be felt that our rights are acknowledged,” he said.
In order to ensure more films are easily accessible, Dipendra said, “We need to have the heart in the right place. It has to become a norm in the film industry. ”
Sakhsham co-founder Rammi Seth said, “Over the years, the importance of education for the differently abled has been realised. But entertainment too is important for visually impaired people.”
Narendra Joshi, technical expert of Saksham, explained the process of getting a movie ready with audio descriptions.”Audio description isn’t a commentary but a technique so that everyone can understand”, he explained.
Officer on special duty, Directorate of Social Welfare, Goa government Taha Haziq said that there has been big changes in IFFI the past three years due to decision to include movies with audio description.
Director of animation film ‘Bombay Rose’ Smt Gitanjali Rao said that animation films in India are not getting state funding and proper platforms for release when compared with other countries. “ We have the talent but our circumstances are different. Animation films are two to three times more expensive than live action films. In Western countries they get state funding. Since the government is not funding and facilitating distribution, we have to depend on private equity. Television is also not giving much space to the animation films produced in the country”, she said.
She further added that the animation industry in India has grown based on outsourcing. “It is corporate driven and hence comfortable for animation film makers. But it is threatening to cause a brain drain. It doesn’t push you to do original work,” she explained.
‘Bombay Rose’ the debut feature film by Gitanjali Rao is a musical romance set on the streets of Bombay. It tells the story of Kamala and Salim’s quest for love in the chaotic and beautiful city of Mumbai. The film had its world premiere at International Critics Week at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.Gitanjali Rao’s 2D animated film Bombay Rose has broken new ground in the field in India. The film was selected for the renowned Critics Week at the Venice film festival.