“IIFA in Tampa is going to be magical” – Andre Timmins Director of IIFA and Wizcraft

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Each year, for a fabulous 3 day weekend the International Indian Film Academy brings Bollywood to the world. They have showcased the best of Hindi cinema in places like Macau, China, Toronto, Canada, Amsterdam and more. This year IIFA is coming to the US for the first time, and from April 23rd to the 26th, Bollywood and its stars will light up Tampa Bay, Florida!

We got the unique chance to talk with Mr Andre Timmins, the director of Wizcraft and IIFA, about what audiences can expect from IIFA 2014. In a word, “Magic”! Check out what else he told us in this exclusive interview.

What made you decide to bring IIFA to Tampa this year?
It has taken 15 years to bring IIFA to America. You know, outside India, America is the second largest territory for revenue and box office. We always wanted to come to America when the event was mature and had hands and legs. We were in discussion with several other cities in America, but I think Tampa stood out from the rest because of the people that we were interacting with. Our thought was, you can be a big event in a bigger city or a big event in a smaller city and that was the perspective at the end of the day. Tampa was love at first sight. You come to a place and the people give you all the respect and are hungry to want the business and are hungry to want to make it work you want to go there. So Tampa, right from the Mayor’s office, to the Governor’s office, to Visit Tampa Bay, they all kind of went out of their way to make sure we are comfortable, to make sure we are respected. It’s like a wedding when you invite your in-laws. (Laughs) I think Tampa scored more than the other cities because besides having the infrastructure they also scored from the point of view of the interactions with the people. So it was more about the people.

IIFA, in some ways, has given Indian cinema the leap and bound of penetrating new territory. Wherever IIFA has travelled IIFA makes a big impact from a cinema base and a base of networking. We want to further increase the penetration of Indian cinema all over the world. That’s exactly what we want to do and achieve.

So this year you have some new events at IIFA – Tell us about IIFA Stomp
Yes, absolutely right. The IIFA Stomp is something more like a kick-off welcome party, which is free to the public. We are expecting about 20,000 people. We are bringing in DJs from India to play Bollywood music, there will be a mela (fair), and there will be a lot of food stalls. So it is going to be very, very simple but it is going to have a lot of Indian music where people are going to come to party and dance, eat, drink and kind of embrace IIFA for the next 3 days. The city won’t sleep!

IIFA Rocks
IIFA Rocks is a special event where we are going to showcase costumes from Bollywood movies, Indian costumes. We want to showcase fashion and are also going to showcase the local fashion. We have one of our big music composers Pritam to do the music. It is going to be more indo-western music, so it is going to be interesting. We are going to bring in some local DJs too.

The Magic of the movies and Technical awards.
Along with the technical awards we are going to showcase in an unique concept what a movie can be: so we are talking about comedy, we are talking about stunts, we are talking about songs, we are talking about weddings. It will be like watching a movie in different sequences.

So what can audiences expect from the IIFA Awards?
They can expect magic! It’s magical. If you ask me, from what I’ve seen over the years is that, anybody that comes to IIFA always comes every year wherever we are, because what you have to understand is that it is the only event where you can view the stars as a close audience. You can buy a ticket and watch the stars perform too. It’s all about the excitement. It’s all about being there. We are looking at 30,000 people in the venue, 35,000 people on the green carpet over 2 kilometers long.

Besides Shah Rukh Khan and hosts Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar, can you give us a hint on who can we expect at the awards this year?
Well, there’s also Sonakshi Sinha, Honey Singh, Pritam, Ranveer Singh and other big names. It’s exciting because there are some big Hollywood stars this year too. We will announce who soon. We are integrating Hollywood stars in our show and we may see a lot of those stars doing the Lungi Dance from Chennai Express.

How are the nominees and the winners decided for the IIFA awards?
We have a unique combination, which is almost like the Oscars and also through public voting. So we are doing a voting weekend 7th-9th of February where we have about 2000-3000 of our film folks from all walks of life coming in and enrolling their vote at this weekend. And from that voting weekend we derive our 5 nominations and then those 5 nominations go to public voting.

What do you think is so special about the IIFA weekend?
For me, this year the IIFA weekend is going to be a lot of fun, it is going to have a lot of excitement, it is different because the people will make it different. When we were in Toronto it was the people who made the difference – they were so engaged in what was happening. And this year’s IIFA is going to be different because it is America. It is going to be different because we are going to bring a lot of Hollywood stars engaging in our cinema. It’s going to be different because, well I can’t disclose names yet, but we are bringing a big Hollywood star along with our Bollywood star to do a Master class. There’s education, there’s business, there’s environment, there’s volunteer programs. Every city every country has it’s own good points, this market is very matured so we feel it is going to be one of the best IIFA weekends.

The IIFA Voting weekend is happening now! Stay tuned we will be bringing you all the IIFA news so watch this space for more!

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