Bringing more cheer and glory to Assam, ‘Garbage Bin Meals’ has been adjudged the Best Documentary Short Film at the Omichka Independent International Film Festival. The festival, based in Omsk, seeks out “bold and innovative filmmakers that utilise story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven independent cinema that is fuelled by the filmmaker’s passion for the art without large studio support.”
Made by Guwahati based surgeon Dr Satyakam Phukan, who is a linguist and a filmmaker as well, ‘Garbage Bin Meals’ is about those people who have been compelled by circumstances to venture out of their homes as dejected ones and to roam about aimlessly spending their days under the sky on the streets, or, in somewhat shady places, on railway foot bridges, verandahs of some business or office complexes. They are made to survive on the alms offered by some kind-hearted people, or, by searching out their meals from the municipal dustbins like dogs and the crows.
The film provides its viewers a critical assessment of the loopholes of modern civilisation, which has engaged man in the campaign to conquer Space, but has failed to provide a compassionate atmosphere for an innocuous section of society.
Amidst plenty and splendour that make life gleaming for many people in this world, these hapless people are leading their lives without there being some organised efforts to recognise them as human beings and offer them some humane treatment.
The film, while highlighting the plight of such people, is critical of modern psychiatry too, which has not made any attempt at identifying and explaining the social factors responsible for the emergence of such dejected people and has rather concentrated on categorising mental illness only with the help of numbers.
The location for the film is the city of Guwahati, which has become a cozy place for many such people, who are found inanely coming from far-flung areas of the country and taking shelter in this city for the past several decades.
The film has earlier been named as the second best documentary by the juries of the Month for May 2017, of the 12 Months Film Festival, Cluj-Napoca, Cluj, Romania. The film was also a semifinalist at the Eurasia International Monthly Film Festival, held in Moscow, Russia in February this year. It was also a semifinalist at the Los Angeles Cine Fest held in Los Angeles, USA in April this year. The film was selected for screening at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Spain, in the same month. In May last, the film was selected for screening at the Big Bang International Short Film Festival, Athens, Greece and it was among the 30 finalists selected and screened at the Cine Microkosmos Theatre, Athens.
Besides directing the 29-minute-long documentary, Dr Satyakam Phukan has also written the screenplay, and handled the cinematography and editing. The film is produced by Ri-Mita Bolsab.