NEW DELHI: The week-long festival celebrating the best of documentary films – the Mumbai International Film Festival for short, documentary and animation films has commenced in Mumbai with a rare insight into the life during pre-independence India, and presentation of the V Shantaram Award.
Maharashtra Governor K N Sankaranarayanan who inaugurated the Festival appealed to filmmakers to lend their voice to raise the problems of disadvantaged through their films.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Bimal Julka, Festival Director V S Kundu who is Director-General of Films Division, and members of the national & international jury and several prominent filmmakers were present.
The veteran filmmaker on social issues Anand Patwardhan who has often raised contoversies through his films was honoured with the V Shantaram Life Time Achievement Award for his contribution to promotion of documentary films movement in India.
Patwardhan is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker known for his activism through social action documentaries on topics such as corruption, slum dwellers, nuclear arms race, citizen activism and communalism. His notable films include Bombay: Our City (Hamara Sahar) (1985), In the Name of God (Ram ke Nam) (1992), Father, Son and Holy War (Pitra, Putra aur Dharmayuddha) (1995), War and Peace (Jang aur Aman) (2002) and Jai Bhim Comrade (2011), which have won national and International awards. Jai Bhim Comrade had won the Best Film award at MIFF 2012.
In his acceptance speech, Patwardhan said, “My feelings are mixed. My films speak about the reality of the disadvantaged. They have raised several socially relevant issues, but the impact has been marginal. The issues I highlighted through my films sine 1980s continue to exist – rampant demolition of slums and uprooting of poor, communal violence, increasing crime against women, atrocities against the downtrodden, nuclear arms race etc, continue to remain as serious challenges”.
The V Shantaram Award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh and a citation.
The opening film - the 86-minute package curated by the British Film Institute National Archive Before Midnight: a Portrait of India on Film, 1899-1947, is a collection of home movies, documentaries , dramas and comedies exploring how life was lived in British India. It has over 100 short films covering topics ranging from temples to tigers.
The Maharajah of Jodhpur’s home movies provide an epic portrait of princely power in the 1930s and 40s, whilst those of the Gorrie family offer an intimate picture of family life and their expeditions into the Himalaya. The collection also features the films and TV dramas that helped to shape the mythologies of British India including The Drum (1938), The North West Frontier (1959) and The Far Pavilions (1984).
Another highlight of the opening ceremony was the screening of short film titled ‘Checkmate BB’ produced by Mumbai School kids. Seventeen kids from 13 schools were trained to conceptualise, direct, shoot and edit a film of their own at a workshop conducted by by the Linnep Media and CineKids, Amsterdam, as part of the fortnight-long Linnep Kids Film Festival, that was held in 15 schools of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, as a run up to MIFF 2014.
The Indian Navy’s ceremonial Naval band and Bangalore’s noted music group Mystic Vibes also enthralled the audience at the inaugural ceremony.
The 13th MIFF being held from 3 Feb to 9 Feb at NCPA (Tata Centre) at Nariman Point received over 790 entries including 205 entries in the international section. This biennial film festival organised by the Films Division of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is held in collaboration with the state Government of Maharashtra and the Indian Documentary Producers Association.