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Annual Report of Indica Pictures (20-21)

Annual Report of Indica Pictures (20-21)

Indica Pictures is a platform for independent film makers to showcase India’s rich cultural heritage and Indian cinema to global audiences. It pursues a three fold strategy of

  1. provide funding for research in films and photography
  2. hosting talks, workshops, courses, masterclasses.
  3. organizing screenings/film festivals and exhibitions/publications.

Review of the activities during the year 20-21 :

June 2020 – Transformation of Indica Pictures

Detailed discussions were held around the opportunities that can be leveraged by transforming Indica Pictures from being a creator of ultra-short films to becoming an enabler for visual arts professionals (filmmakers, photographers) to create Indic content. Also, keeping education as a core component, Indica Pictures would adopt the Sundance model and get involved in a variety of film related activities such as masterclasses, grants/incubation funds, workshops/panels, training programs, besides a marque film festival.

July 2020 – New Indica Pictures Team comes in position

An excellent team came into place consisting of individuals with a lot of expertise as well as credibility. We also made sure it was a diverse team – Danji Thotapalli, Nikita Hattangady, Christian Frost, Sumeet Borwankar, Rajeswari Udayagiri, Bhaskar Rayavaram, Kaali Sudheer – all with truly enviable track records. We also finalized that Indic Film Utsav would be the name and a victorious elephant, our logo.

August 2020 – Announcement of Indic Film Utsav

On August 15th, we made the announcement regarding Indic Film Utsav and also launched the One-Minute-Promo-Challenge. As part of the launch we were able to leverage cartoons by Sri SD Phadnis, a cartoonist and humorist, who was very famous in the Marathi vernacular media during the 50s, and still is very active.

September 2020 – One-Minute Promo Challenge

One-Minute Promo Challenge turned out to be a truly successful event. After more than ~150 registrations, and 30+ submissions from small towns all across India, Kshitiz Rai won the first prize and garnered a lot of praise, while the second and third prizes went to Amir Pallikal and Yogesh Kumar, respectively. Devansh Mathur won a special mention.

October 2020 – Grant for 3 short films with Rukmini Vijayakumar

In collaboration with Center for Soft Power we commissioned well-known Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Vijayakumar for three short films focused on dance. The first one to be on Ayurveda (coinciding with National Ayurveda Day), the next on Classical Arts & Knowledge (to be launched on Basant Panchami) and finally one on Spirituality (to be launched on Sankara Jayanti). On Dec 20th, Center for Soft Power and Indica Pictures jointly unveiled Nadi – The Balance of Elements, a unique and exquisite dance film, which was the first of the 3 short films.

November 2020 – First-ever Indic Film Utsav

Indic Film Utsav was held for 4 days starting November 12th through to 15th. After reviewing 850+ films that were either submitted to us or sourced from curators, we announced a slate of 85 independent films from 18 different languages that were mostly from India and all about India. We chose to be a global online film festival in order to reach Indic audiences across the world, so that anyone from anywhere in the world could watch a film they wanted to, anytime in the day! While the registration drive for Indic Film Utsav yielded 20k+ registrations from all over the world, the event itself generated 13k+ views. Feature Films secured 37% of the viewership, while documentaries came in second at 24%. Shorts and Ultrashorts together raked up 30% of the viewership. The two special categories of Children’s films and Wildlife films added up the balance. Twelve wonderful films won the prestigious Jury Awards and Special Mentions.

January 2021 – Production Grant to Prachyam

We announced a production grant of INR 6,00,000 to Prachyam ( towards the production of two short documentary films (a) India’s Gift to World and (b) Demystifying the Aghora. These two films are part of Prachyam’s larger effort to produce 10 Indic documentaries aimed at correcting certain biases about India. Prachyam has successfully closed a crowdfunding campaign for producing the anthology.

February 2021 – Production Grant to Sarasija Theaters

We announced a grant of INR 1,00,000 to Dallas-based Sarasija Theaters ( towards the production of a picture play titled “Pururava” which is to be released on Amazon Prime. “Pururava” is an eternal, intense tragic love story between Urvasi, the celestial nymph and Pururava, a Chandravamshi king. The play was authored by the renowned writer Sri Gudipati Venkata Chalam in 1947. The play aired just once on AIR in 1976 and it is to the credit of Sarasija Theaters that the play has been revived.

March 2021 – Indica Culture Photography Grant

We announced a first-of-its-kind annual photography grant totaling INR 5,00,000, consisting of 7 individual grants ranging from INR 50,000 to INR 1,50,000, aimed at promoting the new genre of culture photography. Focusing on personal expressions in photography and visual mediums, the primary aim of the grant is to support the pictographic documentation of the rich cultural heritage of India, allowing participation by practitioners and enthusiasts alike to serve the cause of promoting a diverse, inclusive and pluralistic society. Within the next couple of weeks, Indica Pictures will be publishing the guidelines for the grant and commence social media publicity push. Plans are afoot to announce a single-picture contest as a buzz-creator for the main grant program.

The next year is going to be exciting with Indic Film Utsav and Indica Culture Photography Grant as our tentpole events. We also have a few other significantly unique ideas on the anvil – Danji Thotapalli, Chief Curator