The Indian Filmmaker’s Guide To Oscars

Indian films have been a regular affair in major international festivals. And now, achieving the Oscar dream seems plausible too.

Lobbying, promotions, and what not! The race to the Oscars is a mad rush. Indian cinema, despite its rich storytelling tradition, has not been able to decode the Oscar secret. Until now that is!

The All Lights Film Services, which broke into this niche scene 2 years ago, is leading the Indian charge, helping filmmakers attain international recognition at the Oscars.

In a freewheeling chat with Indulge Magazine, Nisha Joseph, Manager of the All Lights Film Services, explains the Oscar process, the hurdles faced by filmmakers and how the organization she represents has made the dream possible for over 10 films from the sub continent in less than 2 years.


  • First of all, can you explain what all categories are open to foreign filmmakers and the process for a film to be selected into the Oscar contention race?

Under the foreign film category of Oscar, “Best Foreign Language Film” is the only category for the foreign filmmakers.  The entry to this category is just one per country and is recommended by the film federation/film apex body of the country.

But under the mainstream category of Oscar, any filmmaker can send their entries. There are around 26 category competitions under this including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and so on.

For the contention, the movie should primarily go through a series of qualification criteria including Los Angeles Screening for 7 consecutive days and if it is not in English language, it should have English subtitles.

  • How difficult is it for an Indian movie to compete with other foreign films?

The key is to get noticed. According to a recent report, an Oscar campaign is said to cost approx $3 million to $10 million which includes mass PR campaign and publicity generation through adverts, holding lobbying parties at LA, New York and the film’s parent country, sending out screeners to Oscar jury members, special review reports / critic reviews in famous film journals and publications etc. While Hollywood movies are funded by big studios who undertake the above mentioned tasks for their respective movies publicity campaign for them, for an Indian movie to cough up such a large amount is extremely difficult.

  • Since the start of operations, how has your organization helped Indian films gain international recognition?

We have helped 12 Indian Films so far which have all vied for contention under the mainstream category. We have a full fledged team and industry affiliations to screen the movies in LA and carry out other necessary documentation. Some of these movies include Ballad of Rustom, Kamasutra 3D, Pulimurugan, DAM 999 and Color of Sky. Apart from that, we have recently helped send a Sri Lankan movie for contention, which is a first for the island nation. Besides conducting rigorous campaigns to help movies get into the very prestigious ‘Oscar Race’, we also help Indian filmmakers to take their movies to film festivals, film markets and film awards around this world. Thus we make sure that such movies don’t go unnoticed at any film circuits. We have also launched movie sales, an initiative by the All Lights Film Services, where we help film makers to sell their movie rights in a more customized format, and ensure that they receive a comparatively higher amount.

  • What are some of the upcoming projects which your organization is lobbying for?

We are currently working on three films, which include a dance documentary (short) titled ‘The Serpent Wisdom’ from India, a feature film titled ‘The Frozen Fire’ from Sri Lanka and a Malayalam feature film titled ‘Aikarakkonathe Bhishaguaranmar’ (Doctors of Aickarakkonam). All these projects are unique, both in content and production.

  • How can a filmmaker approach you?

Filmmakers usually approach us directly, or by participating as delegates or submitting their works for the All Lights India International Film Festival, which we conduct annually at Hyderabad. We forge partnerships with movies screened here that we find special. This year, the 4 day film festival will be held at PVR Inorbit Mall. Interested filmmakers who wish to vie for Oscars can mail us at or call us on 9539 000 509.

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