Oscars of Indian cinema to be held in Florida in 2014

Associated PressJuly 6, 2013 

TAMPA -- Bollywood's version of the Oscars is coming to Florida, and it marks the first time that the multiday film event will be held in the United States.

Tampa officials announced Friday that the International Indian Film Academy's Weekend & Awards is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the area next June. Local officials say previous IIFA events have generated up to 24,000 room nights with a local economic impact exceeding $11 million.

According to the IIFA, the awards have a worldwide viewership of approximately 600,000 people.

The term "Bollywood" is the nickname for the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry -- but Indian cinema isn't just comprised of the song-and-dance extravaganzas mostly produced there. Indian cinema has become the largest producer of films in the world. India produced nearly 1,500 films last year, according to accounting firm KPMG.

While they have been slow to catch on in the U.S. outside major cities, Indian films have won audiences across the world.

The group's selection of the U.S. as the site for its 2014 awards could signal a push to gain English-speaking audiences. Indian directors also are eager to bring different kinds of films -- not just the popular musicals -- to a worldwide audience.

The Indian Film Academy event will use many of the same venues as another large Tampa event: the Republican National Convention of 2012.

"This is an affirmation of how well the city performed at the RNC," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who said he was ecstatic after hearing Friday's news.

"It's an amazing international event, the likes of which Tampa and the U.S. have never seen before," he said.

Santiago Corrada, president and CEO the area's tourism marketing group, said several of the city's large venues -- including the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Florida State Fairgrounds, and Raymond James Stadium -- will be considered for parties and ceremonies.

In an email, Corrada of Tampa Bay and Co. said the local Indian community was instrumental in winning the film awards bid.

"We have a very active, dedicated and supportive Indian community in Tampa Bay," he said. "They have championed this bid from the beginning and of course, with all of our assets, we make the perfect host city."

The IIFA is based in Mumbai, India. It presents the awards to honor achievements in Indian cinema.

The awards weekend takes place in a different city around the world each year. The 2013 event is being held this week in Macau, and Tampa officials and local organizers of the 2014 event are attending this year's festival.

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