UPDATED: The social media campaign to save the Mumbai Film Festival, threatened with closure due to a lack of funding, has raised $250,000 in just two days.
Companies and individuals pledging donations include Cinestaan Film Company, founded by Anand Mahindra and Rohit Khattar; high-profile producer-directors Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Broken Horses) and Rajkumar Hirani (3 Idiots); producers Manish Mundra, Vivek Kajaria and Nilesh Navlakha; director Hansal Mehta and author and critic Anupama Chopra.
Organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), the festival has been under threat after a five-year deal with Reliance Entertainment ended last year and has not been renewed. A sponsorship deal with American Express has also expired.
Local filmmakers, stars, industry figures and fans of the festival have taken to Facebook and Twitter to raise the $824,000 (Rs50m) that is needed for the event to go ahead this year.
The campaign’s banner reads: “5,000 supporters, Rs10,000 each is all it will take. Lets make it happen.” The 16th edition of the festival is scheduled to take place October 14-21.
Cinestaan, launched in July by the head of the Mahindra & Mahindra conglomerate and Mumbai Mantra chief Khattar, has committed to $100,000 to the festival.
“Anand [Mahindra] and I believe that a festival as important as this should not belong to one sponsor or studio,” said Khattar. “As the youngest film studio, we would appeal to the larger studios, production houses and, in fact, to all film lovers in Mumbai to take joint ownership. This is OUR Festival and even the smallest contribution would help fulfill our mission.”
Mumbai film festival director Srinivasan Narayan said: “I am extremely happy and humbled with the response that we have been getting from the film industry and film lovers in the city at large. We are delighted and grateful to Cinestaan Film Company, Anand Mahindra, Rohit Khattar and Manish Mundra for their generous contribution. We are also extremely thankful to Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Anupama Chopra, Vivek Kajaria and others for ensuring that the festival rises like a phoenix.
“Today for the first time ever it truly feels that the Mumbai Film Festival belongs to the patrons and lovers of the festival. I thank each and every one of those who strive to ensure that the festival continues to present the best of world cinema to our Indian audiences.”
In recent years, the festival has attracted major talent, including Zhang Yimou, Jane Campion and Asghar Farhadi. It offered cash prizes worth $220,000 annually. The festival’s screenings are usually full house, but Indian film festivals are not able to sell tickets if they screen films without any cuts.