In May, President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), John Bailey and his wife, Editor Carol Littleton, paid a 4-day visit to India. Bailey was in the country as a special guest of the 56th Maharashtra State Marathi Film Festival Awards. He presented at a private workshop on cinematography, participated in an interactive session with select industry guests, and held several media engagements.
Attending the Festival, Culture Minister Vinod Tawde said that Bailey’s visit would help to expand interest and awareness of Indian regional cinema around the globe. With that aim in mind, Tawde shared his proposals for the Academy – setting up an AMPAS office in Mumbai, installing a bronze statue of Dadasaheb Phalke in the Academy’s soon-to-be-opened museum, and increasing India’s representation in the Oscar’s jury.
In response, Bailey said Tawde’s suggestion of a Mumbai-based AMPAS office was ‘an excellent idea’. Conceptually, the Academy office in India would provide services such as film archives, a library, and the opportunity for filmmakers and enthusiasts to conduct screenings and exhibitions. However, he also said that setting up an office would require an agreed role out plan.
During an engagement in Delhi attended by students of the National School of Drama and aspiring filmmakers, Bailey was asked about the inadequate representation of Indian films abroad. He responded that perhaps Indian filmmakers, PR organisations and the Government need to examine why Indian films are not so widely promoted in various parts of the world.
Bailey and Littleton reflected that their visit to India had exposed them to the diversity in Indian films. Bailey said, “Your films are made in 23 or 24 languages. When the Academy is thinking of diversity, I can’t think of any other country in the world that surpasses India in the opportunities and challenges of diversity represented by its wide range of cinema.”
Bailey expressed the Academy’s interest in connecting with various cultures of the world. He shared that the Academy has started an initiative to double its membership in diversity. Last year the Academy recruited 928 members, including Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Guneet Monga, and others from the Indian film industry. Bailey said, “There are literally thousands of incredible filmmakers around the world... men and women who have been making movies for 30, 40, 50 years who could have been, but have never been invited in the Academy or didn't know that they could be sponsored. There are great filmmakers everywhere. We need to acknowledge them and their films need to be seen irrespective of gender, race, any kind of ethnicity... at the same time, we need to pay attention to those issues because we have ignored them for so long.”-