Mumbai International Film Festival 2014 doffs hat to human spirit with awards at closure

Monday, 10 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
  • Shyam Benegal (2nd-L) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan (centre) at the closing ceremony Salman Ansari DNA

The 13th edition Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF 2014) drew to a close with Kamar Ahmed Simon's Are You Listening winning the Golden Conch. While FTII films made an impression at the festival winning multiple awards, Gulabi Gang fetched Nishtha Jain the best director award. Kashmiri film 'Tamaash' made a mark and Dhvani Desai's film on RTI 'Chakravyuh' is voted the most popular film of the festival.

The 13th edition Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF 2014) drew to a close with Kamar Ahmed Simon’s Are You Listening winning the  Golden Conch. While FTII films made an impression at the festival winning multiple awards, Gulabi Gang fetched Nishtha Jain the best director award. Kashmiri film ‘Tamaash’ made a mark and Dhvani Desai’s film on RTI ‘Chakravyuh’ is voted the most popular film of the festival.

The world’s largest and oldest international week-long festival international documentary film festival, which showcased more than 400 films from 35 countries concluded with best of the work in documentary, short and animation films honoured with awards, presented by legendary auteurs Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal.

Praising the good work done by MIFF Benegal said, “I made my first film with Films Division (FD) in 1962. After it reached a golden era in the 70s it looked like the government had all but forgotten FD as television became its focus. It needs to regain its space as institute of film documentation. I think the current Director-General V S Kundu is going in the right direction.” Echoing this legendary film maker Gopalakrishnan too lamented the reversal suffered by FD. He also felt the media wasn’t doing enough to cover good cinema and documentaries. “FD should organize training sessions for young mediapersons on the nuances of the medium,” he suggested.

One jury panel comprised eminent film-maker Anand Patwardhan, film curator Angela Haardt from Germany, Director of the Yamagata Documentary Film Festival, Fujioka Asako of Japan, Slovenian film scholar Jurij Meden and noted animator from Mumbai Shilpa Ranade.  The other panel had Canadian film maker Mark Achbar, film director and editor Amitabh Chakrabarty, film maker from Kerala M R Rajan, noted cinematographer Piyush Shah and Netherlands-based film scholar Rada Sesic on it.

Kamar Ahmad Simon’s 90 min documentary ‘Are You Listening’ bagged the Golden Conch for the best documentary (above 60 minutes). Apart from the trophy it got Rs 5lakh cash prize (Rs 3lakh for the Director and Rs 2 lakh for the producer – Sara Afreen).  Set in the coastal belt of Bangladesh, Simon’s is a powerful film that reveals the alarming effects of climate change and deftly captures the fighting spirit of a community. The families of Sutarkhali, a coastal village left underwater by a tidal surge after a cyclone seek seek refuge on a dyke facing government apathy in reclaiming their land causing friction.

The Golden Conch for best documentary upto 60 minutes went to Maria Stodtmeier’s (Germany) In Between : Isang Yun in North and South Korea.  It explores whether music overcomes boundaries of the divided North and South Korea, taking the viewer along on an exciting journey through two political systems. It got the Golden Conch and Rs 5lakh cash prize (Rs 3lakh for the Director and Rs 2 lakh for the producer – Paul Smaczny).

FTII production Black Rock directed by Vikrant Janardhan Pawar was adjudged Best Short Fiction film in the International Competition. It got  the Golden Conch and Rs 5lakh cash prize (Rs 3lakh for the Director and Rs 2 lakh for the producer - FTII).

 The Golden Conch best animation film award went to True Love Story by Gitanjali Rao.  This 18-minute animation, set in the streets of Mumbai explores what happens when the ultimate Bollywood fantasy is applied in reality.  It gives glimpse into the influence of Bollywood on real life in Mumbai, told through puppet animation.  The award carries a Golden Conch and Rs 5lakh cash prize.

Gulabi Gang which tells the story of Sampat Pal and her group of women vigilantes and activists from Bundelkhand, who fight for womens’ rights and empowerment got the Best Director award for Nishtha Jain, an alumnus of Film & Television Institute of India. The film which has won several national and international awards already is slated for a release in theatres on February 21, as part of PVR’s Director’s Rare initiative.

In a first MIFF introduced a new award category– Most Popular Film of the Festival. This was chosen through voting by festival delegates.  Dhvani Desai’s short film Chakravyuh, through the struggles of four characters from different regions of India, throws light on how the RTI can help fight corruption.

Mumbai based film maker Dylan Mohan Gray’s film Fire in the Blood got the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for a director’s best debut film. The  84-minute film tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of the global south in the years after 1996 - causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths - and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back. This award carrying a cash prize of a lakh rupees and a trophy has been instituted by the Maharashtra Film Development Corporation, Mumbai

Indian Documentary Producers’ Association Award for best student film went to Sonyacha Amba (Golden Mango) directed by Govind Raju and produced by FTII, Pune. This film which had been acclaimed in Berlin and Beijing festivals as well bagged the Rs 1,00,000 cash and trophy.

Pramod Pati Award for most innovative film, carrying a cash prize of a lakh rupees and a trophy went to Pushpa Rawat’s  57-minute documentary Nirnay (Decision).  The film explores the lives of women in a lower middle-class colony in Ghaziabad, who are young and educated, but feel bound and helpless when it comes to major decisions about their lives, like career or marriage.

The Kashmiri short-film Tamaash (The Puppet) won the Golden Conch for the best short fiction film (upto 45 minutes) in the national competition. Tamaash is the first film by sibling directors Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh, who also wrote, edited, and produced it, along with Tulsea Pictures. The film insists on the power of goodness and the importance of preserving the innocence of children.  It had won the Golden Elephant Award at the International Children’s Film Festival held in Hyderabad during November 2013.  Along with the Golden Conch, the filmmakers also got a Rs 2.5 lakh cash award.

Also in the national competition section, Seven Hundred Zero Zero Seven by Altaf Mazid  (Azerbaijan) got the Golden Conch for Best Documentary (upto 40 minutes), while Have You Seen the Arana by Sunanda Bhat and  Invoking Justice by Deepa Dhanraj shared the  Best Documentary Awards in above 40 minutes category.

When Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s seminal Celluloid Man was called out for an award, he was not present but legendary archivist P K Nair on whose life the film is made, was himself present.  When Shyam Benegal walked up Nair to hand him the award, audience rose in a rousing standing ovation for the man who poet lyricist Gulzar has called, “as tall as Dadasaheb Phalke.”

The week-long festival, which showcased more than 400 films from 35 countries concluded with best of the work in documentary, short and animation films honoured with awards, presented by legendary auteurs Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal.

Praising the work done by MIFF Benegal said, "I made my first film with Films Division (FD) in 1962. After it reached a golden era in the 70s it looked like the government had all but forgotten FD as television became its focus. It needs to regain its space as institute of film documentation. I think the current director-general VS Kundu is going in the right direction." Echoing this legendary film maker Gopalakrishnan too lamented the reversal suffered by FD. He also felt the media wasn't doing enough to cover good cinema and documentaries.

One jury panel comprised eminent film-maker Anand Patwardhan, film curator Angela Haardt from Germany, director of the Yamagata Documentary Film Festival, Fujioka Asako of Japan, Slovenian film scholar Jurij Meden and noted animator from Mumbai Shilpa Ranade. The other panel had Canadian film maker Mark Achbar, film director and editor Amitabh Chakrabarty, film maker from Kerala M R Rajan, noted cinematographer Piyush Shah and Netherlands-based film scholar Rada Sesic on it.

Kamar Ahmad Simon's 90-min documentary 'Are You Listening' bagged the Golden Conch for the best documentary (above 60 minutes). Apart from the trophy it got Rs5 lakh cash prize (Rs3lakh for the director and Rs2 lakh for the producer – Sara Afreen). Set in the coastal belt of Bangladesh, Simon's is a powerful film that reveals the alarming effects of climate change and deftly captures the fighting spirit of a community. The families of Sutarkhali, a coastal village left underwater by a tidal surge after a cyclone seek seek refuge on a dyke facing government apathy in reclaiming their land causing friction.

The Golden Conch for best documentary up to 60 minutes went to Maria Stodtmeier's (Germany) In Between : Isang Yun in North and South Korea.

FTII production Black Rock directed by Vikrant Janardhan Pawar was adjudged Best Short Fiction film in the International Competition.

The Golden Conch best animation film award went to True Love Story by Gitanjali Rao. This 18-minute animation, set in the streets of Mumbai explores what happens when the ultimate Bollywood fantasy is applied in reality. It gives glimpse into the influence of Bollywood on real life in Mumbai, told through puppet animation.

Gulabi Gang which tells the story of Sampat Pal and her group of women vigilantes and activists from Bundelkhand, who fight for womens' rights and empowerment got the Best Director award for Nishtha Jain, an alumnus of Film & Television Institute of India. The film which has won several national and international awards already is slated for a release in theatres on February 21, as part of PVR's Director's Rare initiative.

In a first MIFF introduced a new award category– Most Popular Film of the Festival. This was chosen through voting by festival delegates. Dhvani Desai's short film Chakravyuh, through the struggles of four characters from different regions of India, throws light on how the RTI can help fight corruption.

Mumbai-based film maker Dylan Mohan Gray's film Fire in the Blood got the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for a director's best debut film.

Indian Documentary Producers' Association Award for best student film went to Sonyacha Amba (Golden Mango) directed by Govind Raju and produced by FTII, Pune. This film had been acclaimed in Berlin and Beijing festivals.

Pramod Pati Award for most innovative film, went to Pushpa Rawat's 57-minute documentary Nirnay (Decision).

The Kashmiri short-film Tamaash (The Puppet) won the Golden Conch for the best short fiction film (upto 45 minutes) in the national competition. Tamaash is the first film by sibling directors Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh, who also wrote, edited, and produced it, along with Tulsea Pictures. The film insists on the power of goodness and the importance of preserving the innocence of children. It had won the Golden Elephant Award at the International Children's Film Festival held in Hyderabad during November 2013.

Also in the national competition section, Seven Hundred Zero Zero Seven by Altaf Mazid (Azerbaijan) got the Golden Conch for Best Documentary (up to 40 minutes), while Have You Seen the Arana by Sunanda Bhat and Invoking Justice by Deepa Dhanraj shared the Best Documentary Awards in above 40 minutes category.

When Shivendra Singh Dungarpur's seminal Celluloid Man was called out for an award, he was not present but legendary archivist P K Nair on whose life the film is made, was himself present. When Shyam Benegal walked up Nair to hand him the award, audience rose in a rousing standing ovation for the man who poet lyricist Gulzar has called, "as tall as Dadasaheb Phalke."


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