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MIFF 2020 comes to a glittering close:An Essay of Rain receives Silver Conch

Mumbai:3/2/20-The 16th edition of the oldest international event for non-feature films in South Asia, the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short Fiction & Animation Films, has come to a close, at a glittering closing ceremony at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Worli, Mumbai today.

Golden Conch, Silver Conch and other Special Awards

The awards for the best films of the festival have been presented at the closing ceremony.

The prestigious Golden Conch Award for Best Documentary Film at MIFF 2020 has been awarded to Babenco: Tell Me When I Die, directed by Barbara Paz. The film, which is a tender immersion into the life of the South American filmmaker and Paz’s late life partner Hector Babenco, has been selected for the highest honour at the festival “for its intimate and celebratory portrayal of the Brazilian film director and his reflections of life – and death”.

Receiving the award on behalf of the director, Consul General of Brazil Guilherme Patriota read out a written message from Barbara Paz: “Winning this award fills me with huge emotion and it is from India, a country I love and admire. I wish I could be with you to receive the prize in person. I always dreamed of getting to know India but unfortunately I can’t be with you today. I thank you from my heart. Babenco is a film about love, the love of cinema, the love of life. It is a film about how to say farewell to life by doing what you love, filming till the last. Brazil thanks you for this prize. Director Babenca is dancing in Paradise”.

 

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Short Fiction Film has been conferred on the Marathi film Paavsacha Nibandh (An Essay of Rain). Directed by Nagaraj Manjule, the film tells the story of a ten-year-old boy who writes an essay on rain for a school assignment. The film has been chosen for the award “for its evocation of a grim social reality through the metaphor of rain that transforms into an unwritten essay”.

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Animation Film has been shared by two films – the German film Portrait of Suzanne, directed by Izabela Plucinska and the Indian film Panangaatu Nari (The Fox of the Palmgrove) by Divakar S. K.

The full list of award-winning films and filmmakers across various categories can be found here, along with other details such as the jury’s citation.

Addressing the gathering, the Governor of Maharashtra, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari highlighted the important role of documentary films and exhorted filmmakers to improve public awareness and sensitivity towards societal and humanitarian issues, so as to inculcate higher values and inspire actions among people. He said that this will make such films timeless and remembered and lived by generations to come.

Chairman, International Jury, Shaji N. Karun said that to us filmmakers, Films Division is the history of India; it is the emotional history of the nation. “Documentaries represent the real history of India. I thank fellow jury members for their untiring efforts in selecting the best films to be screened at the festival. In order to bring more stability to a great and important festival such as MIFF, we like to recommend to create a position of independent artistic director or curator, so as to acquire the best films from India and the world for the festival, based on a wider and deeper philosophy. The Organizing Committee should be formed at least one year in advance, for better programming and for providing better information to the public on the films on offer. One copy of the winning film should be deposited with the National Film Archive of India”.

Congratulating the winners, the Minister for Cultural Affairs and Medical Education, Government of Maharashtra, Shri Amit Deshmukh said that the national and international jury members had a very interesting and challenging time to judge and assess the films and decide on the winners in various categories. He said that MIFF has achieved great heights over the years. He noted that Nagaraj Manjule’s Sairat won hearts of people around the world, it crossed all the boundaries in terms of cinema. “The Government of Maharashtra is going to do everything possible in order to promote the film sector. The Union Government and the state government must come together in order to create new avenues for filmmaking, to give infrastructure to experiment and produce films which can cater to the world. Films are a great contributor to the economy as well.”

Chairman, National Jury, Thomas Waugh said that the National Jury had an enjoyable and challenging week. “Part of the challenge has been the diversity of the films. We need to reach out to the global animation community and get a larger representation of animation films. We need to reach out further to the producers of feature-length documentaries. We need to focus more on independent documentary production. We need to increase the number of selected films, so that a broader range of films can be examined by both national and international juries. The new section on water conservation is a very promising development. We are very proud of the strong representation of woman directors in the National Competition Section.”

Addressing the gathering, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Shri Atul Kumar Tiwari said that awards are a small effort by the Government to deepen the documentary film culture in India, in line with its quest for more meaningful and better cinema. He noted MIFF 2020 has instituted a special award for the best short film on Water Conservation and Climate Change. He said that Films Division has been responsible for keeping the flag of documentary films flying high. He hoped that with evolving technology, the coming editions will have a cornucopia of mind-blowing documentary films.

Presenting the report of the festival, the Festival Director and Director General, Films Division, Ms. Smita Vats Sharma said that the festival featured a rich tapestry of film screenings and events and was a sum total of a variety of unique experiences for the festival delegates. She assured that the festival will be back with a bigger and more enriched next edition.

A Snapshot of the Festival

A total of 302 films were featured at the festival; this included 47 films in National Competition, 28 in International Competition, 11 in National Prism and 7 in International Prism. 13 Homages, 4 Retrospectives and 10 Special Packages were presented. The retrospective of noted animator Konstantin Bronzit from Russia and the scintillating and stunning packages of animation films from Finland and Balkan countries were widely appreciated. The Homages and Retrospectives of the legends of Indian animation – Ram Mohan, Bimsain Khurana and V. G. Samant – witnessed the participation of not only young students but also of their admirers and contemporaries. The same outpouring of admiration and affection was visible at the commemorative retrospective of Manjira Dutta as well. MIFF 2020 also played tribute to the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray by showcasing his major documentaries and short films. The festival was enriched further by the special package of films from the North Eastern Region of India, with the presence of several eminent filmmakers from the region. The Country Focus this year has been Ireland, under which six documentaries and one animation film from the country have been presented.

Apart from the screenings which left the audience inspired and moved, master classes, workshops, Open Forum sessions, demonstrations and exhibitions on various topics of relevance to the film industry were a matter of delight and inspiration to the enthusiastic fesetival audience comprising more than 3,200 delegates. The master classes by Prof. Thomas Waugh from Canada, Oscar-winning animator Michael Dudok de Wit from Netherlands and Pencho Kunchev from Bulgaria, acclaimed cinematographer Mazhar Kamran, filmmaker and writers Ramesh Tekwani, Munjal Shroff and Chetan Sharma were a huge success, with the sessions continuing well beyond the stipulated time.

The 3-day Film Editing Workshop by renowned film editor B. Lenin and another 3-day-long workshop on Drone Cinematography by the Indian Institute of Drones were also especially well received.

The festival witnessed an iconic moment when Rama Khandwala, an ex-member of the Azad Hind Fauj and the last living member of the Rani Jhansi regiment, attended the screening of the film Elephants Do Remember. The film is a documentary released in 2019 based on the life of the 94-year-old freedom fighter, who joined the Rani Jhansi Regiment of Indian National Army at the age of 17.

For the first time in the history of MIFF, nine short films made by intellectually challenged youngsters were screened at MIFF, thus giving a platform to youngsters with autism.

Gandhi Smriti, an event to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, comprised screenings of rare films from Films Division archives, on the father of the nation.

A pan-Indian collection of students’ films was presented as part of the festival and for the first time, Films Division collaborated with Directorate of Film Festivals for the first time, by screening Indian Panorama Non-Feature films package. In another first, Outreach Campus Screenings were held at three media institutions in Mumbai, in parallel with the film screenings at Films Division Complex.

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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