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Indian films dominate MIFF awards

MUMBAI: Indian films dominated the 11th Mumbai International Film Festival of Documentary, Animation and Short Films, bagging 14 of the 17 awards given at the conclusion of the week-long Festival, with the other three awards going to Australia, Denmark and Russia.


Russian director Alexander Gutman’s ‘August 17’ won the Golden Conch for the Best Documentary, while ‘The Spell’ directed by Umesh Kulkarni was adjudged the best fiction film, even as the jury found no film fit for the top award of a documentary up to 30 minutes, and for the jury’s prize.


Ritu Sarin and Sonam Tenzing’s documentary ‘The Sun behind the Clouds’ won the Silver Conch and Rs 150,000 in cash in Documentary above 30 minutes category, for ‘upholding the spirit of liberty and maintaining a sense of balance while bringing about different perspectives within the Tibetan struggle.‘ It is about Dalai Lama’s efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully and reaction of the younger generation to the new stance.


‘17 August’ was unanimously praised by the Jury for its rigorous, transformative treatment of the unlimited human spirit in an extremely limited space. Gutman’s 53 minute documentary traces the life and thoughts of Boris Bezotechestvo, sentenced to life imprisonment in a small cell. His world is all of four walls and a view from the window. The St.Petersberg based filmmaker received the Golden Conch award along with Rs 3,00,000 in cash in the ‘Best Documentary above 30 minutes’ category.


The awards were given away by Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan, in the presence of Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Mohan Jatua, and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Others present on the dais were International jury chairperson Trinh T Min-ha of the United States, Critics Jury Chairperson Ashley Ratnavibhushana of Sri Lanka, Indian Documentary Producers Association President Jahnu Barua, and Festival Director and Chief Producer of Films Division Kuldeep Sinha. The programme was conducted by actress Meeta Vashisht, and the invitees included actress Preity Zinta.


National award-winning filmmaker Anwar Jamal’s “Anwar- Dream of a Dark Night” and Deepa Bhatia’s ‘Nero’s Guests’ won special mention. ‘Nero’s Guests’ also received the Critics Award and a Certificate of Merit for revealing the reality of India’s agriculture sector in a unique manner.


In the Documentary under 30 minutes category, ‘Vagabond – A nomad in spirit and in reality’ and ‘I Found a Thread’ jointly shared the Silver Conch award and the cash prize of Rs 1,50,000. ‘Vagabond’ gets the award for ‘sensible portrayal of a very difficult and traumatic episode of contemporary Indian history. ‘I Found a Thread’ rekindles the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi to the contemporary society.


In the fiction category, Vinoo Choliparambil’s ‘Vitthal’ won the Silver Conch and Rs 1,50,000 cash prize. The film deals with Child psychology, brilliantly depicting child’s negative moods and his emotional struggle. Geetu Mohan Das’ ‘Are You Listening?” and Alex Holmes ‘Ali and the Ball’ (Australia) won special mention of the jury.


‘Burma VJ- Reporting from a Closed Country’ won the Best Film of the Festival Award for the Producer. Line Lense Moller of Denmark is the Producer of the film that captures the democracy struggle in Myanmar.


Whistling Woods International’s production ‘Bejinxed’ won the Best Student Film award instituted by the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association. The award carries the IDPA Trophy and a cash prize of Rs 25,000.


Shaji Pattanam’s ‘The Hunted- In search of Home and Hope’ was adjudged the best debut film of a Director. This award, comprising a Trophy and Rs 100,000, has been instituted by the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari of Government of Maharashtra.


Sanjay Jangir’s ‘Wait and Path’ (Raah) which traces the initial frustration and later blossoming of hope of a differently abled person, won the Golden Conch in the Best Animation Film Category along with a cash prize of Rs 3,00,000


National Institute of Design’s ‘Ukadi Pukadi’ won the Silver Conch while Makrand Joshi’s ‘Lost Home’ which traces how wild life finds concrete jungles more formidable won the special mention in the animation category .


The other members of the International Jury were Gianfranco Rosi of Italy, Peter Van Huystee of the Netherlands, and Dr S Krishnaswamy and Asha Parekh from India. The other members of the Critics (FIPRESCI) jury were Necati Sonmez of Turkey and M C Raja Narayanan of India.


In his speech, the Governor said since the documentary was an effective medium, it should also reach the people through dedicated screenings in theatres. He expressed satisfaction that the format was becoming popular with Indian audiences.


Jatua said the documentary was an effective format to spread positive messages and reflected the shades and moods of the society without fear. He promised all help from the centre to the short film movement.


Bhujbal said he missed the news reels which had a purpose of their own, and noted the power of the documentary to speak out.


Min-ha said she was impressed by the filmmakers’ spirit of persistence, while Ratnavibhushana said Indian filmmakers were socially and politically conscious.


Barua said that the festival had signaled hope for the growth of the documentary movement in the country.

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