Hong Kong-born and London-raised Garcia has been the executive director of Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) since 2010. He has also been associated with several film festivals as curator and juror in Asia, America and Europe.
"I have been in the business for a long time and the biggest change is getting films, which has become much more complicated. In 1979, I wanted to show 'The Chess Player' by Satyajit Ray at the Hong Kong Film Festival. I got in touch with the film's producer and he instantly agreed. My first contact with Indian cinema was through Ray who came over to the festival," Garcia told IANS in an interview.
"Today, to do something like that is virtually impossible. Because today I'd have to talk to the distributor, sales agent, and they would figure out whether they need to show their film at a certain film festival. They usually prefer Cannes or Berlin festival because they believe they can get good mileage out of it," he added.
Even if a filmmaker agrees to bring his film to a certain film festival, he said that there are several challenges.
"I would have to work on a package to bring the filmmaker along with a few people who come with him. With some filmmakers it's fine because we known them personally, but overall getting films to show in festivals has become extremely difficult," added Garcia, who is one of the jury members of the India Gold section at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival.
He feels that too many film festivals have spoiled the scene.
"To get films to fests has become complicated because there are several film festivals across the world and many films are handled by sales agents and distributors, who understandably look at these as publicity vehicles. Most major film fests such as Cannes and Venice were started for publicity purposes," he added.
The other reason is most film festivals want world or international premieres of a certain movie.
"Many of the festivals try to find world premieres and therefore it's quite a struggle for films. The festival calendar is always crowded because it's mostly organized during spring or autumn. Nobody wants to screen the same films, but it's difficult because there are not too many good films," said Garcia.
He adds that a festival can add value only when it screens good films instead of lining up hundreds of movies.
"If you're putting together a film festival, you should really like the films you're showing. But it doesn't happen all the time because we at HKIFF also show several films. Some we show because we think our audiences will like it and others are films we are passionate about," he said.
"Sadly, most festivals today have become publicity stunt for Hollywood stars. The passion for movies is lost in that kind of crowd," added Garcia, who personally is inspired by New York Film Festival (NYFF).
"I have been following NYFF for many years now, although I haven't attended it. It is run by a guy called Richard Roud, who would screen only 20 best films to audiences through the fest. It was a highly curated personal vision and I think it was really good," added Garcia, who has successfully produced films such as "The Big Hit" and "Manila Skies".
(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at )
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