Australia India Film Council Chair Anupam Sharma.

The newly-established Australia India Film Council (AIFC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) as it looks to firm up filmmaking ties between the two countries.

Finalised at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, where India was the country of honour, the agreement provides a framework of goals and initiatives to facilitate greater project collaboration, co-production, and cross-cultural partnerships between the Australian and Indian film industries.

They include provisions to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation of Indian cinematic history to a wider Australian audience; greater educational and cultural guidance; improving accessibility for Australian and Indian filmmakers to produce screen content in their respective counties; facilitating exchange programs of film crew and talent; and a commitment to an annual roundtable conference featuring high-end delegates from Australia and India that each country will host on a rotating basis.

It comes after the establishment of the AIFC at the end of last year, with director Anupam Sharma chairing a board that includes vice-chair and former head of Film Victoria Julie Marlow, and producers Sheila Jayadev, Jomon Thomas, Deepti Sachdeva, Kartik Mohandas and Vikrant Kishore.

The council has also recently appointed Australia Day Ambassador Khushaal Vyas as the chief operating officer.

Vyas said it was “particularly exciting” to see the formalisation of a framework of initiatives and goals that could be achieved alongside the FICCI, a business body launched by Mahatma Gandhi whose entertainment division hosts Asia’s largest conclave on media and films, FRAMES.

“[The MoU] marks the first of many steps toward greater meaningful collaboration between Australia and India in film and a catalyst for some exciting movements in this space, particularly given the news that a coproduction treaty may be signed very soon between Australia and India,” he said.

FICCI assistant secretary-general and entertainment division head Leena Jaisani described the MoU as an “exceptional step towards greater collaboration across the Indian and Australian film industries”.

“As a proud member of the Indian film community, I am delighted to see both countries progress towards creative excellence through this partnership,” she said.

“This strengthening of Indian-Australian connection through film brings forth a myriad of creatively and economically beneficial opportunities. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it and can’t wait to see the proliferation of our respective industries.”

Earlier this year, the Australian Government announced an in-principle Audio-Visual Co-production agreement had been reached between Australia and India, with the treaty negotiated as a side measure of the interim India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement.

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