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18th MIFF Explores OTT Platforms for Documentaries

Mumbai: The ongoing 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2024) witnessed an engaging panel discussion today on the evolving landscape of documentaries in the realm of Web Series and OTT Platforms. Titled ‘Web Series/OTT Platforms – An Elusive Platform for Documentaries,’ the session delved into the challenges faced by documentary filmmakers and the pivotal role of OTT platforms in reshaping the distribution and viewership of non-fictional content.

The distinguished panel featured eminent voices from the film and documentary industry, each sharing unique perspectives on the intersection of documentaries and OTT platforms. Notable participants included Shaji N Karun, renowned filmmaker and Chairman of Kerala State Film Development Corporation; Prof. K.G. Suresh, Vice Chancellor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University, Bhopal; Subbiah Nallamuthu, National Award-winning cinematographer and director; and Ratan Sharda, software marketing expert and public policy activist. The discussion was expertly moderated by Sanskar Desai, President of the Indian Documentary Producer’s Association.

Director Shaji N Karun emphasized the compatibility of documentaries with OTT platforms, urging filmmakers to leverage this medium to reach broader audiences. “OTT platforms provide a crucial avenue for documentaries to be showcased and appreciated,” he remarked, drawing from his experiences in Kerala.

Prof. K.G. Suresh underscored the transformative impact of OTT on content distribution, describing it as a democratization of entertainment. “OTT platforms have democratized content creation and consumption, offering unprecedented opportunities for filmmakers,” he noted, illustrating the positive shift akin to modernizing traditional services.

However, filmmaker Subbiah Nallamuthu brought attention to the persistent challenges faced by documentary makers in navigating OTT platforms. “Despite initial optimism, documentary creators struggle due to the commercial priorities of OTT platforms,” he lamented, highlighting the scarcity of Indian documentaries on these platforms even after several years.

Ratan Sharda echoed these concerns, emphasizing the need for OTT platforms to prioritize cultural and societal responsibilities alongside commercial interests. “There should be a balance between profitability and the promotion of meaningful content,” he urged, proposing governmental initiatives to establish dedicated platforms for documentaries to nurture emerging talent.

The panel concluded with a consensus on advocating for equal opportunities and recognition for documentaries on OTT platforms. Sanskar Desai summarized, “As the landscape evolves, it is imperative for OTT platforms to embrace documentaries and support their creators, ensuring diverse and enriching content for global audiences.”

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