Indian Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, left, Aisharya Rai, center, and Abishek Bachchan perform athe 2005 International Indian Film Academy Awards in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Next summer, the award show will be in Tampa. ASSOCIATED PRESS FULE
And the Oscar goes to - Tampa. The "Bollywood Oscar," that is. The International Indian Film Academy will bring the glitter and glamour of its "Bollywood Oscars" to the Tampa area next summer. It's the first time the international event will be held in a city in the United States. "For Tampa Bay to be selected as the first U.S. city to host these awards is incredible," said Santiago Corrada, president of Visit Tampa Bay via email from Macau, China. "And coupled with the unprecedented amount of international attention, it's priceless. Our residents know, we offer something for everyone; now, the world will see all that Tampa Bay provides its visitors."
Corrada and a group of delegates, including Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and other tourism officials and representatives, are in the southern Chinese territory of Macau for this year's awards ceremony. They are to return to Tampa on Sunday. A 2 p.m. news conference is scheduled Monday at the offices of Visit Tampa Bay. The IIFA, which is based in Mumbai, India, presents its Weekend & Awards to honor achievements in Indian cinema. The awards are held in a different city around the world each year. Host cities have included Singapore, Toronto, Dubai and London. The awards has multiple events - film premieres, workshops, exhibitions, film-showcases, fashion shows and a paparazzi-worthy awards ceremony - over three days. Corrada said locations being considered include The Forum, the Florida State Fairgrounds and Raymond James Stadium. There also will be opportunities for events in Pinellas County, organizers said. The Film Academy's multiday event is expected to bring thousands of visitors. Previous events have generated upwards of 24,000 hotel room nights with more than $11 million in economic impact to the host community. According to the IIFA, the awards have a worldwide viewership of more than 800 million people. Darshna Patel, president of the Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Tampa, was thrilled with the news. "Tampa Bay has a huge Indian community," said Patel. "With all the celebrities coming to town for this event, the world's eyes will be on us." The Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce held its fourth annual India International Film Festival in Tampa in February. The three-day event brings together the local Indian community and increases awareness of Indian cinema and culture through film. According to the film festival website, the Tampa Bay area is home to more than 35,000 people of Indian descent and contributes about $3 billion in revenue to the local economy. Indian cinema has become the world's largest producer of films, with more than 1,000 produced annually, said Francis Vayalumkal, founder of the film festival. The films are in many languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Gujarati and others. The IIFA's Bollywood Oscars will focus attention on the area as a venue for filmmakers and producers, Vayalumkal added. "One of the things we want to do is put Tampa on the map internationally," he said of the film festival. "When people think of Florida they think of Orlando and Miami, we want to make Tampa Bay a destination for the film industry and (the IIFA) event is a great opportunity to showcase everything we have to offer. We're looking forward to playing a big role in the planning." firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7656