Film buffs in Delhi were exposed to a wide diversity of films made by filmmakers from the North East in a recently held two-day festival called ‘The Fresh Lens: New Cinematic Voices from Northeast India’, which was organised by the India International Centre and the North East Media Forum. The festival presented some significant voices among a new generation of filmmakers who, following in the footsteps of veterans like Aribam Syam Sharma, Jahnu Barua and the late Bhabendra Nath Saikia, have made a mark at the international and national level.
The films screened were – ‘Aaba’ (Grandfather; Arunachal Pradesh), ‘Loktak Lairembee’ (Lady of the Lake; Manipur), ‘The Pangti Story’ (Nagaland), ‘Alifa’ (Assam), ‘Beautiful Lives’ (Assam), ‘Sabin Alun’ (The Broken Song; Assam), and ‘Antardrishti’ (Man with the Binoculars; Assam).
Amar Kaushik’s ‘Aaba’, is about a farmer who lives with his wife and granddaughter (Sunku) in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. He is diagnosed with lung cancer and has only a few days to live. He decides to dig his own grave, but an unexpected event pushes the story towards a startling climax.
The film has won a Special Prize of Generation Kplus International Jury for Best Short Film at the 67th Berlin Film Festival and Best Short Fiction Film at the 64th National Film Awards 2016.
Multiple award winning ‘Loktak Lairembee’ by Haobam Paban Kumar is based on the lives of people living on floating huts in Manipur’s Loktak lake. Under the guise of protecting the serenity of the lake’s ecosystem, the authorities in 2011 had burnt the huts leaving thousands of fishermen homeless.
The film is the story of one such fisherman, Tomba, who accidentally comes across a gun hidden in the biomass. Possessing a gun transforms Tomba. He becomes very assertive and begins to believe that it is the solution to all his problems.
‘Alifa’ fetched Deep Choudhury the Golden Lotus Award for Best Debut Film of a Director at the 64th National Film Awards 2017. It is a saga of human-wildlife conflict competing with basic questions of love, hatred, dreams and desires as well as the frailties of human nature and wider social bonding.
Sesino Yhoshu’s ‘The Pangti Story’ explores the transition of an entire village from one that slaughtered hundreds and thousands of Amur Falcons, the longest travelling raptors in the world. These falcons fly from Siberia every fall to roost in Pangti, a small village in Nagaland, their most fervent conservationists.
‘Beautiful Lives’ by Kangkan Deka is based on the 2008 bombings in Guwahati and portrays the undying spirit of one of the victims and his day-to-day struggle to survive.
‘Sabin Alun’ by Altaf Mazid examines the oral singing traditions of the Karbi tribe from Assam.
‘Antardrishti’, a 100-minute film by Rima Das is about a retired geography teacher whose banal life turns upside down when his musician son gifts him a pair of binoculars.