The inaugural Times of India Film awards will be held in Vancouver, lured here by the promise of international exposure for the event and the media company that runs it – and an $11-million investment from the provincial government. The TOIFAs were launched with a splash Tuesday morning in the city, with appearances by Bollywood stars, Times of India executives and B.C. Premier Christy Clark.
"Welcome to Bollywood East," Ms. Clark told reporters after announcing the event, which is separate from the International Indian Film Academy awards. Known as the Bollywood Oscars, the IIFA awards were held in Toronto in 2011.
Director/producer Karan Johar, described at the TOIFA launch event as "the Steven Spielberg of India," will co-host the awards with Bollywood actress Chitrangada Singh. The ceremony on April 6 at BC Place will follow two days of related events, including a "music extravaganza" at Pacific Coliseum on April 4 and screenings of popular Bollywood films in multiplexes across B.C.
"The diaspora love that our films have received over the last 50 years has been something that I can't describe in words," said Mr. Johar. "Really, the diaspora love has made Indian cinema even more impactful, even more global." Mr. Johar, who was visiting Vancouver for the first time, said that he would be interested in shooting his next film in B.C., and would be scouting for locations while in town.
The province will provide $9.5-million in matching funding to the Times Group to produce the event, and a further $1.5-million is being budgeted for related activities, including a B.C.-India Global Business Forum. Officials say the immediate economic benefit of playing host to the awards will range between $13-million and $18-million.
"The Times of India communicates with 90 million people every single day and they'll be communicating about British Columbia to the people that they speak to," Ms. Clark said. "This is an incredible opportunity for us to sell our province."
When asked by reporters about providing millions of dollars to the Bollywood film industry while deciding not to improve tax incentives for local production, Ms. Clark said higher tax credits offered by some jurisdictions are not sustainable and that the $285-million her government provides in tax credits is appropriate. "What we are trying to do is create a stable, sustainable environment in which people can work," she said. "So we found I think a very generous level of tax credits that we are going to be able to sustain and make sure that the industry can predict not just what the business environment's going to be like this year, but what it'll be like five years or ten years from now." She also pointed out that as part of the deal, one Bollywood production will come to B.C. and use B.C. suppliers.
"So at the same time we're trying to make our province attractive from a tax perspective, we're also using events like this to try and bring more productions to our province. I hope that's just one production that we'll attract from the biggest film industry in the world."