Indian children's films win accolades in Houston

NEW DELHI: ‘Mahek’ by K. Kanade, which had earlier bagged the best feature film award at the 10th Arpa International Film Festival in Hollywood, has won the Best Feature Film (Family) Platinum Remi Award at the prestigious 41st Houston International Film Festival 2008 in the United States.
The film had been nominated for as many as six categories including the Best Feature Film at the Festival which has just concluded here: Director, screenplay, first Feature, best foreign film and best Family Film.

The Festival – which in accordance with the quality of the films also gives Gold, Silver and Bronze Remi to other films that take part – chose the animation film ‘Man Pasand’ by Dhvani Desai based on a Panchantra tale for the Gold Remi, while ’68 Pages’ by Sridhar Rangayan was given the Silver Remi. A Canadian film ‘Daily Planet: India Unleashed’ by Anne-Marie Varner for the Discovery Channel, also received the Gold Remi.

Both ‘Mahek’ and ‘Manpasand’ have been produced by the Children‘s Film Society, India.

‘Manpasand’ was recently shown at the Mumbai International Film Festival and the Women’s Film Festival of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) where it was the opening film.

‘Mahek’ had its world premiere at the prestigious 51st London Film Festival 2007 and later was screened at several International Film Festivals including the 32nd Cleveland Film Festival, and at St Louis, Chicago, Frankfurt and Sydney. This was the only Indian film at the Houston festival.

Mahek is a little girl‘s journey towards self-realization. It looks at the world through the imaginative eyes of children and examines their rights. What children miss most is respect - for them and for their imagination. Eleven-year old Mahek wants to be the best in everything, but she does not know what she is best at. To complicate things, an old, magic-less Modern Fairy walks into her life.

The cast of the film include Shreya Sharma, Anuya Bhagwat, Madan Deodhar, Anuja Borkar, Dheeresh Joshi, Madhavi Gadgil and Lalan Sarang. The international crew was made up of Music Composer Mathieu Lamboley based in Paris, Associate Director Matthias Schwelm based in Berlin, and Second Associate Director Sania Jhankar studying at Tisch, New York. The Indian crew had DOP Mrinal Desai, Co-Writer Kedar Dharwadkar, Editor Suchitra Sathe, Sound recordist Anmol Bhave, Re-recording artists Anup Dev-Subir Das, Costume designer Dinaaz Gabrani and Makeup Director Kavita Koparkar.

Legendary artist Mario Miranda did the sketches for this film. It is for the first time that Miranda has drawn for a Hindi feature film.

According to Kanade, "My first feature film Mahek looks at the world through the imaginative eyes of children and examines their rights. What children miss most is respect. Respect for them and respect for their imagination. For a child, a flower is as important as food, shelter and clothing. The education system in India could put more emphasis on aesthetics and philosophy."

Kanade is an alumnus in film direction from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune who also completed the Producers Program from UCLA. His thesis film ‘Chaitra’ won Three National Film Awards and two National Awards at MIFF. It was included in a special DVD release: Master Strokes- 20 First Films from 45 year history of FTII. ‘Mahek’ is his first feature film.

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