Centre keen to promote documentary TV channel: Dasmunsi

MUMBAI: Renowned Manipur filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma is to receive the V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to the documentary film movement in the country.This was announced here last night (Sunday) by Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh at the inauguration of the Tenth Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) for Short, Documentary and Animation Films at a simple function presided over by the Information and Broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi at the National Centre for Performing Arts.

Sharma is a film director, actor, critic, and music director. He came to limelight with his award-winning film Imagi Ningthem (My Son, My Precious) that received the grand Prix at International Film festival at Nantes in France in 1982. His other acclaimed films include Ishanou, the official selection (un Certain Regard) for Cannes Film Festival 1991, and Sangai-The Dancing Deer of Manipur declared as the "Outstanding Film of the Year 1989" by the British Film Institute. He has directed nine Manipuri feature films and 26 non-feature films. They include Sanabi (The Frey Mare) in 1996, Rajarshee Bhagyachandra of Manipur and Gurumayum Nirmal.

Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Ashok Chavan, joint secretary (films) VB Pyarelal in I&B ministry, Indian Documentary Producers‘ Association president Jahnu Barua, Aribam Syam Sharma and actress Vidya Balan were among the others present at the inauguration.

The CM expressed satisfaction that Mumbai continued to be the permanent home for the MIFF as the city was "the motherland of movies." "Let MIFF ignite many more movies," he added.

Dasmunsi announced that the Films Division had restored as many as 6,000 old prints and only 1,000 prints were left to be restored and digitized. Responding to the demand for a separate documentary TV channel, he said that he had discussed the matter with Prasar Bharati and also asked them to give time every Saturday for promoting the classical arts of the country. But he said he would clear within a week any proposal by a private entrepreneur for a channel for documentaries.

Interestingly, however, the minister did not respond to a proposal made almost two years ago by the Films Division for launching a separate documentary channel.

Dasmunsi regretted that television news channels appeared to have run short of serious news and were mingling news and entertainment.

Chavan said that the government supported the documentary format as a means of purposeful communication.

Earlier, Barua strongly reprimanded the authorities for not being able to create an exhibition outlet for documentary films and the television channels including Doordarshan failing to give adequate time for showing meaningful documentaries. He said one reason for this was the lack of unity among documentary filmmakers who were unable to put proper pressure on the government and create a proper platform.

Kuldeep Sinha, chief producer of the Films Division that organises the festival in collaboration with the I&B ministry and the Maharashtra state government, said he hoped to work towards an annual MIFF.

A total of 44 films from 16 countries including India have been shortlisted for the international competition while 54 films from 14 states have been selected for the national competition.

Sinha today revealed that a total of 228 films from 37 countries had been received for the international section and 543 films had been received from within the country.

Apart from the competition sections, a total of nine international films will be showcased in other sections and 13 Indian films will be shown in the special screening section.

Referring to the fact that MIFF had become the third largest documentary festival in the world, Sinha said that the tenth edition this year – the festival commenced in 1990 and is held every alternate year – will have several new features.

Being held from 3 to 9 February, MIFF will have separate sections of films from the SAARC countries, South Africa and Brazil.

There will be a "Best of Festivals" section for selected films from some renowned documentary, short and animation film festivals and Oscar winning and nominated films, a retrospective of films by jury members, a section of classics featuring films of great masters of documentary films which will have films made by great masters like Bert Haanstra, Robert J Flaherty, Francois Truffaut, Istvan Szabo, Kristof Zanussi and Ritwik Ghatak. This package will be organised with the support of National Film Archive of India.

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