With the keynote speaker pulling out at short notice, the Indian Film Industry conference FRAMES 2003 is facing a daunting task of attracting speakers - and delegates, given the global economic and political climate.

FRAMES, held between March 14 -16 in Mumbai, is promoted as Asia's biggest convention on the business of entertainment - largely due to the huge number of delegates it normally attracts.

This year's event was planned to coincide with the signing of the Indo-Canadian co-production treaty. The Canadian Government was to be represented by Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage and accompanied by a high level delegation of industry figures. But now, not only is the treaty still unsigned, Ms. Copps and her delegation has decided to defer their visit to India.

The other attraction to the event was to have been Indian-born Hollywood film producer Ashok Amritraj, chairman of Hyde Park Entertainment, who has also cancelled his attendance at the conference.

A French Animation delegation has also decided to opt out of the seminar and even major Indian trade bodies, including Animation Producers Association of India, are to avoid the event.

The organisers are now trying to attract UK Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, as the keynote speaker, and according to the latest revision of the program, the newly appointed Indian Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad will now inaugurate the event. MD of BBC World, Patrick Cross and the UK Film Council's John Woodward are being billed as overseas attractions in an effort to revive interest in the Industry event.

In the face of the mounting cancellations, FRAMES 2003 organisers are now planning to visit the AFM to scout for international speakers from among the delegates. They will also seek to dispel the fear of Mumbai's proximity to Iraq and Kashmir - which is being seen as a reason for the large number of dropouts among American speakers.