'Our films target the audience interested in alternate cinema'
New York-based Rossellini Associates, Sanjay Khan's company, Numero Uno and Shyam Shroff's distribution house, Shringar Films, have got together and moved into the business of distributing small-budget foreign films.
The first film they have brought to India is Life Is Beautiful, a sensitive film set in a concentration camp in Italy that has won several international awards.
Gil Rossellini, the owner of Rossellini Associates Inc, New York, was in Bombay for the film's launch. He was visibly excited about conducting business in India despite the fact that the film industry is possibly at its lowest ebb.
"It (conducting business in India) makes business sense," he stresses. "We're here to deliver good quality films. The films that we are talking about target only the segment that is interested in alternate cinema. Under the existing circumstances, only if you have access to film festivals can you go and see such cinema. And film
festivals are not conducted at such a large scale here that large audiences can attend," he explains.
They are not looking at the Hollywood blockbuster scene, which easily makes them the first in their chosen category.
But then, if Hollywood is not in the picture, what about the old 'strength in numbers' adage? "In India, when it comes to audiences, the sheer size is daunting. If even about two-three per cent of the populace comes to watch our films here, it still adds up to over 12 million people. This is a huge figure, which is almost as large, if not larger than, the entire US movie-going population.
"And we are telling you this after a lot of research and development that the company has been in the midst of in the last six months or so," states Rossellini.
The focus of this company is to attract a small, interested audience.
In the know of the local market is actor-director Sanjay Khan's company, Numero Uno, with which Rossellini Associates has tied up with.
It was, reveals Rossellini, also Sanjay Khan's expertise that led them to come to this very specific and focused decision. "He thought it was a good idea, and we needed to make an entry through someone who knows the Indian market. Shyam Shroff and I believe he does.
"Shyam Shroff of Shringar films has been distributing similar films in various English languages in the past. His experience will only add to the company," he says.
Rossellini Associates will not be involved with marketing and advertising the films, however, says Rossellini, "We will just take care of acquiring distribution rights. Our offices are spread all over the world, and we can get in touch with all kinds of companies. For instance, we are in close touch with
MiraMax, so we can tie up with them," he says.
Monetarily, Rossellini does not have any unrealistic hopes whatsoever. He is very clear that there is no hope of any profits initially. "This isn't cynicism. Just knowing my business that makes me so confident. But the future, I must add, is looking good."