Into The Wild: Bring Your Own Film Festival

A cinematic potluck, where each attendee brings their own carefully constructed creative concoction in the form of a film – from shorts to documentaries, animations to features! The Bring Your Own Film Festival – happening this February 21st – 25th in Pink House, Puri – is a unique concept that destroys hierarchy and place the emphasis on sharing. Each filmmaker brings their own piece of work and everyone has the chance to screen their films to an attentive audience – out in nature, under the stars. The location is an additional attraction – being held in the seaside town of Puri in Odisha, an inspiring locale that rather aptly complements the spirit of the festival. As the official online partner, IndiEarth caught up with the creators for a little insider look at this rather unique vision for how Indian cinema is showcased and promoted in the country.

IndiEarth: Tell us more about what inspired the unique festival concept, and a bit about its past editions?
Team BYOFF: BYOFF started in 2004 at a time when there was great discontent spreading amongst independent filmmakers against censorship rules at festivals like Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) amongst other things. A group of friends (Swagat, Susant, Gurpal, Debu & others) while bathing in the Puri sea struck upon a Eureka moment, and came up with an idea to keep indie cinema afloat – a festival with no rules, selections, juries or hierarchy and anyone who had a film could participate. And this was in a time when YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook were yet to be rampantly used. The first edition of BYOFF was supposed to be a small affair but an overwhelming number of filmmakers turned up and multiple screens had to be arranged. The three-day festival became a five-day long affair the very first year. From then on BYOFF has rolled down like a juggernaut of ‘indie cinema’ screening hundreds of films and launching dozens of careers. More than 5,000 artists have participated in BYOFF so far, and scores of films that were otherwise unknown and obscure found a home.
IndiEarth: Who are some of the filmmakers who will be in attendance, and tell us a bit more about some of the films you’re expecting will be screened?
BYOFF: The nature of BYOFF is such that one truly does not know who exactly will turn up. Filmmakers like Q have regularly turned up without announcement and have had previews, premieres and screenings of their latest films. You might say BYOFF is a bit like a Hitchcock movie! At the same time some people register online so one has an idea. This year the registered filmmakers so far are some young filmmakers from Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Delhi, and some known documentary makers like Nandan Saxena, Kavita Bahl, Nitin Pamnani, Asheesh Pandya, and Surya Shankar who will be screening their latest films. BYOFF
IndiEarth: This year’s festival also operates as a multi disciplinary creative space – tell us more about the other artists/ arts/activities happening at the festival?
BYOFF: The ‘KYAMERA KYATERA Bazar’ is a new introduction to BYOFF where participants can trade and barter their wares like artworks, films, used equipment, etc. Art director Sukant Panigrahy will be putting up a surprise multimedia installation, filmmaker Anirban Datta and troupe will be presenting some radical performance art, singer Harpreet Singh, street artists Abhinav and Aditya. Then a master class in Direction by acclaimed filmmaker Susant Mishra whose films like Shadows of the Rainbow have etched a permanent place for themselves in world cinema. The multitalented Sudarshan Juyal will be conducting a workshop in Still Photography. The thing about BYOFF is that more than 50% of the activities and events are technically impromptu as we never know who is going to turn up and do what.

IndiEarth: How do you source funding for artistic initiatives like BYOFF?
BYOFF: One third of the total budget is taken care of by registrations, another third by crowd funding and another third by state or corporate sponsorship. There has been many debate about that third of corporate funding and we have been trying our best to do away with it but that is possible only if registrations and crowd fund can fulfil it. We have also decided from this year onwards to invite leading film equipment manufacturers to exhibit & demonstrate their products at BYOFF. Hopefully that will also fetch us more revenue.
IndiEarth: What are the greatest challenges putting together an independently spirited festival like this – and what you hope to achieve with it?
BYOFF: There are two major challenges for BYOFF today: firstly, the festival has lost its original relevance with the advent of broadband in every nook and corner – though nothing can beat the charm of a few hundred people huddled under the stars and watching movies on a big screen by the sea. And secondly, raising funds and becoming totally independent from state and corporate sponsorship. Hopefully with workshops, master classes, film equipment expo, etc. we will become self-sufficient and keep the this ark of indie cinema afloat!

For more on BYOFF and details on how to participate, visit their website at


IndiEarth is an online B2B platform that connects India’s non-mainstream independent Musicians and Filmmakers to worldwide Media. The platform features a blog, offers value-added services and wider opportunity networks through its partnerships. IndiEarth is an EarthSync Initiative.

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