Interview with Festival Director Anamika Raj (GardenCity Film Festival)

Garden_City_Logo-01.jpgI am Anamika Raj and I am a graphic designer by profession and have produced 2 feature indies. GardenCity Film Festival is one of the most appreciated in the country by several critics. It’s main focus is student and female filmmakers from around the world. We are happy to introduce the local audience to a range of most recent, cinematically daring and powerful filmmaking from around the globe. We want to be a festival that touches and teaches the audience, a festival that will drive creators to produce meaningful films, a festival that drives audiences from all walks of life and makes the week-end a deep experience that becomes a long lasting tradition.

Interview with Festival Director Anamika Raj

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Anamika Raj: The best feeling for a budding filmmaker is not to earn loads of money, but to showcase his film in front of an audience, sharing the thoughts, and if the film is appreciated by the audience that is the biggest reward for every filmmaker all around the world. Film festivals are the stage to showcase great talents of the independent filmmakers. We at GardenCity give the same oppurtunity. There are so many film festivals all around the globe, and we don’t say we are the best, but as far as we can help filmmakers, we think we are doing our part.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

AR: A lot of amazing documentaries made by young girls and there’s a section of LGBT films.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

AR: The qualification on the film depends on how the filmakers has tried to reach out to the audience. Your effort shows on the output of the film. We prefer films that are hard-hitting and are there to make an impact and should connect to the audience.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

AR: It’s absolutely impossible to select every film witht he time duration we have and the amount of entries we get. Filmmakers need to understand that and maybe up their game. Every filmmaker is working very hard to bring out a good film, but they need to understand that if their film is not selected, maybe the other filmmakers have put a bit more effort than them in their pictures.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

AR: Let me tell you a true story, I am a filmaker myself and people in my team are very passionate about films. So, we were doing this one project and we were working day and night on it, with just 4 hours break in a day. The project was completed and then we started sending it to film festivals. The feeling that you get when you receive a mail from the authorities saying that your film has been selected is amazing. I mean, you are actually being praised for your hard work. And that’s when my team and I decided to start something like this. If we can be a part of motivating talent, then, why not! See it’s simple, you are good at something and if you don’t get any good comments about that work, you will start working hard on your films, but if you get praised for doing that same work, next time you will try to give a better film to the audience.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

AR: We got 20 films as entries in the first edition and in the last edition, we got 300+ films. So, we are getting there.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

AR: In 4 years, we surely see ourselves as a big competitor to Cannes and Berlinale. Haha! Just kidding. When we started GardenCity Film Festival, we had one point very clear, all the film festivals happening all around the corner are not competing against each other, they are just helping brilliant filmakers to showcase their work. So, in 4 years, we would see ourselves helping four times of people we are helping now to bring out their work. We keep giving heavy discounts to the filmmakers who are really short of funds, especially student filmmakers.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

AR: Rang De Basanti (from India) and every Woody Allen movie.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

AR: As I already mentioned that a great film is that which connects to the audience and which has an amazing thought process behind it. See, for independant filmakers, cost of the movie really matters. Sometimes a filmmaker can come out with mind blowing movie on a very small budget, and sometimes, movies with huge budgets are panned by critics and audiences. So, to make a great movie all that it takes is a great thought and knowledge of using the given resources rightly. Script is the king.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

AR: In Bangalore, we have a film industry called Sandalwood. It’s growing and very good young filmmakers are coming out with their films. Sandalwood usually prefers action movies or thrillers. Some of them are Lucia, U-Turn and Cryptic Road.

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.