A still from Village Rockstars
Rima Das is on the threshold of realising one of the biggest achievements for a filmmaker – going to the Oscars. Her Assamese film, Village Rockstars, is India’s official entry to the Academy Awards 2019 in the Best Foreign Film category. Though jubilant about the honour, Das says she has a tough road ahead – with no studio backing her small-budget film, the director lacks the financial resources required to promote it in Hollywood. Das is well-aware that lobbying is crucial to ensure that her film makes it to the final five nominees vying for the golden statuette.
“I made Village Rockstars on a budget of less than Rs 30 lakh. But to make it visible in Hollywood, I need money for marketing and promotion. I need to hire a PR machinery there and have to organise screenings for critics. My friend Adil [Hussain, whose film What Will People Say is the Norwegian entry] told me I need at least Rs 5 crore. How will I promote my film without any money,” questions Das.
As a mark of support, the government of Assam, her home state, has promised her Rs 1 crore. “I have been assured that the tax will be waived. If taxed, I will get about Rs 68 lakh.” Das adds that her friends and well-wishers have joined forces to raise funds for her trip.
No stranger to global acclaim, her film has done the rounds of several international film festivals. Before the lobbying of films kicks off in Los Angeles next month, Das hopes that her labour of love does not fall victim to scarcity of funds.
“Taking my cast to Los Angeles and staying there will cost me a tidy sum. I am now appealing to Bollywood stars to help Village Rockstars find a place in the world forum.” She also points out that while previous Oscar entries have had their share of controversies, Village Rockstars has been universally applauded.