Sikkim makes debut at Cannes; SFPB Chairperson hints revival of Sikkim Film Festival

One of the top “Big Five” international film festivals, alongside the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Sundance Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the Berlin Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival is among the most prestigious annual film festivals in the world. It is held around May in Cannes, a city located on the French Riviera. Founded in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival has emerged as a platform to showcase and present a wide range of top-quality films from around the world, with the intention of being a significant hub for the film industry. It also awards the Palm d’Or as the top prize for the best films worldwide.

As the Cannes Film Festival 2023 opens on May 16 at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, an exhibition center in Cannes, Sikkim, a tiny Himalayan state in the northeast of India, is being represented at the festival for the very first time. Two delegates from the state, Samten Bhutia, a renowned filmmaker, and Pooja Sharma, Chairperson of the Sikkim Film Board, are among the thirteen delegates from eight northeastern states nominated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, to attend this prestigious event.

“We are not going to Cannes as individuals but as representatives of our state and to showcase Sikkim,” said SFB Chairperson Pooja Sharma while talking to the Sikkim Chronicle before leaving for the festival. “I have also received an invitation as a speaker at an event named the India Pavilion, where I will speak on the topic ‘India as an exotic film destination’,” Sharma added, expressing her happiness and excitement about her nomination.

“We will be able to talk about the natural beauty of Sikkim, promote it as a film shooting destination, and boost tourism,” added the statement

When asked about the significance of his nomination to attend Cannes 2023 and its impact on the film industry in Sikkim, filmmaker Samten Bhutia said, “Since Cannes has rightfully been named the Mecca of Films, this is undoubtedly a significant opportunity for me and the young filmmakers I represent from the state.”
“If given the opportunity, I will definitely speak about the film culture in Sikkim and the Nepali Film Industry.” He added

In recent years, Sikkim has witnessed exponential growth in its relatively smaller film industry, with talented filmmakers, actors, writers, cinematographers, musicians, and artists getting robust opportunities in the silver screen as well as on OTT platforms. The state was awarded “Most Film-Friendly State” at the 67th National Film Awards in October 2021. With representatives and professionals attending global workshops and film festivals, it is expected to further improve the industry, providing wider and sustainable opportunities for upcoming talents and enthusiasts.

Film festivals around the world, both big and small, provide platforms for film enthusiasts and professionals to share ideas, collaborate, and discuss business. They offer a wide range of opportunities for filmmakers, critics, distributors, actors, and industry professionals to attend and learn from film screenings while discussing developments in the industry. Such film festivals are usually sponsored by national or local governments or private organizations.

Back in 2021, Sikkim was also gearing up to organize its own version of a film festival with the objective of promoting Sikkim as a film shooting destination and a potential film tourism hub. The festival was scheduled to include multiple film screenings, cultural exhibitions, master classes with national and regional film technical experts, art performances, along with film and video competitions. This had excited young budding filmmakers and artists in the state of Sikkim. However, due to many uncertainties, the festival was cancelled, with little hope of it being rescheduled and revived.

“When asked about the anticipated Sikkim Film Festival, Pooja Sharma said, ‘Because of Omicron (a Covid variant of the Covid-19 pandemic), we could not organize the much-hyped Sikkim Film Festival.’ The Sikkim Film Board chairperson added, ‘However, the ministry has also promised to lend its support this year to organize the festival, so most probably the Sikkim Film Board is going to take the initiative with the support of our board members.'”

The Cannes Film Festival 2023 is scheduled to take place between May 16 and 27, with big names from the global film industry expected to attend the festival.

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