Ruing the lack of space for independent films, filmmaker Onir Wednesday sought government patronage for indie films to co-exist with the mainstream cinema.
"The biggest challenge for indie films today is the lack of space for them. Cinema is not only about entertainment, it is an art that needs to be nurtured. The problem is that we have not been able to co-exist with the mainstream cinema," said Onir.
Participating in a seminar on '100 Years of Indian Cinema' at the 18th Kolkata International Film Festival, he said that the government must build special theatres to screen indie films.
"Both the theatre and the satellite routes prefer showing mainstream cinema and only the leftover space is available for us. The government must build small theatres, which would screen only indie films. Then only we can survive," he said.
"When the state run Doordarshan says their prime time slot is for blockbusters and not indie films, it comes as a slap for us. We need to address the medium of film exhibiting and Doordarshan can play a major part in that by showing films irrespective of language, genre etc," said Onir.
He has started a petition along with several National Award-winning filmmakers to ask the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to protect and save independent cinema.
Signed by the likes of Ashutosh Gowarikar, Rituparno Ghosh, and Vishal Bharadwaj, the petition seeks governmental steps to protect and promote independent cinema in the country.
The petition raises the concerns shared by independent filmmakers across the country about the exhibition and broadcasting of their films.
The petition also demands a share of Rs.200 crore from the Rs.600 crore allotted by the government towards celebrating, commemorating and archiving 100 years of Indian cinema.
"Instead of celebrating the glorified past, it is time we revived our present. Rs.200 crore can easily be set aside to revive indie films. The money can be used to build theatres across the country where people can watch indie films from different parts of the country in the same theatre," added Onir.