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Raj Amit Kumar to use crowdfunding campaign to release his film, Unfreedom

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Film-maker Raj Amit Kumar’s new film, Unfreedom, which has been banned in India, will be simultaneously released in North American theatres and on digital channels via Film Buff, a digital film distribution platform on May 29, 2015, reports IndianTelevision.com.

According to the publication, the film deals with  stories on the themes of religious fundamentalism, intolerance, violence and homosexuality. Due to the criminalisation of  homosexuality in 2013 in India, the film has been banned in India by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

However, the publication notes that Kumar is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to distribute the film through alternate means in India. There is no information on the crowdfunding platform that he plans to use or the schedule of the campaign. It is also not clear if the film would be required to get CBFC’s approval for distribution through alternative means and how the film-maker plans to procure it.

Due to the lack of easy access to produce feature films, Indian film-makers, in the recent times, have been resorting to crowdfunding to fund their films. Some of the films that were funded through crowdfunding include Lucia by Pawan Kumar, Peddlers by Vasan Bala, Shala by Sujay Dahake, among others notes BusinessToday.

It’s also worth remembering that way back in 2012, film producer Abhishek Pathak uploaded the trailer of his movie Bittoo Boss on YouTube when the censor boards refused to clear it for the big screen, and didn’t even give a reason for not clearing it. More recently it’s worth noting that  Gaali Beeja,  an art film, was denied a certification by the Bengaluru regional office of the CBFC  as the committee could not decide whether Gaali Beeja was a documentary or a feature film, and that the film lacks technical polish and does not easily relate to characters.

Crowdfunding in India

Wish berry and Catapoolt are some of the Indian platforms that enable film makers to raise funds. Both these platforms are rewards based crowdfunding platforms and hence encourage film-makers to reward their contributors. The rewards may include digital or theatrical preview of the film, DVD of the film, mentioning the contributors’ in the film’s end titles, among others.

Foreign platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter and others also aid crowdfunding of different ideas including films. However, some of these platforms like Kickstarter are not open to fund projects outside the U.S. Interestingly, Kickstarter had recently claimed that 4,690 Indians had contributed $824,800 to projects on its site only in 2014.

The Indian markets regulator SEBI had also come out with a proposal to explore the possibilities of having a security-based crowdfunding framework in India within the existing legal framework. SEBI crowdfunding guidelines coverage here.

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