The controversy behind the Times of India Film Awards
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
I write pretty often on my love for film, and what kind of cinephile would I be if I didn’t love and know a little bit about foreign films? With that said, I have to stress that I am not the biggest fan of Bollywood films—they’re just not my taste. So you can imagine I wasn’t very interested when I heard we were to host the Times of India Film Awards, which occurred Saturday, April 6.
You’ll see a lot of stories about the success of the event, and how popular it turned out to be, with CBC reporting near 40,000 were in attendance. But, while I’m sure it was a lovely event for the Bollywood film industry and the Indo-Canadian community here in BC, hosting the Times of India Film Awards was also one of the most blatant attempts at self-indulgence I think any of us have ever seen by our increasingly flimsy Liberal party.
First to address was the price of the tickets. Although the cheaper tickets ranged between $47 and $62—understandably they were the first to sell out—ticket prices from there suddenly jumped to practically double at $123.75, and from there basic seat tickets were $1,523.75, which at that point was nothing more than price gouging. There were also fan packages that went from $2523.75 to $3273.75—this pricing I understand if we were a major part of Bollywood films, but news flash, we’re not. As the event neared, there were many rumours flying around that attendance wasn’t going to be as high as expected; for some inexplicable reason, tickets just weren’t selling as much. Not long after, a number of people received tickets literally priced at $0.00 in an obvious show of seat filling. So if you were wondering how 40,000 people could afford tickets priced between $123.75 and $1,523.75, turns out they couldn’t.
But the biggest outrage from hosting the Times of India Film Awards is in regards to BC’s dying film industry. Several “Save BC Film” campaigns were launched earlier this year to raise awareness of the major arts cuts BC recently received, specifically to our film budget. Vancouver is a known film-loving community, especially with our dozens of annual film festivals and ever-popular film programs and Vancouver Film School. However, local filmmakers are struggling to make their BC-based films, with less assistance from our provincial government than ever. To see a supposed $11 million spent on this event and completely separate industry is a slap in the face.
Much of the finger pointing has once again been placed on Premier Christy Clark, who in recent months hasn’t exactly been the Premier BC needs, and especially not the one we deserve. With the enourmous “ethnic vote” scandal that broke last month, suddenly hosting the Times of India Film Awards made significantly more sense. As reported by Global, the event was highly encouraged by our Ministry of Tourism, with Clark announcing to the media that, “This event is just part of what’s going to inject millions into our economy.” Because we’re still not done paying the debt from hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics—which at the very least was broadcast around the world. The Times of India Film Awards weren’t even broadcast live!
I think BC citizens have had just about enough with this delusion and disrespect. I certainly have in regards to how our local arts have been treated.