Award-winning documentary ‘Riders of the Mist’, directed by Roopa Barua, has been screened to much praise and appreciation in the Hague Indian Film Festival, held in Amsterdam recently.
‘Riders of the Mist’ is a documentary on the bareback pony races in Jorhat that have been continuing for the last 138 years. The ponies are semi-feral and come from the riverine islands of the Brahmaputra. Riders of the Mist will be screened at the festival along with some critically acclaimed movies like ‘Court’, ‘Killa’, ‘Margarita with a Straw’, ‘Bahubali’ and the legendary film by Shekhar Kapoor, ‘Bandit Queen’.
‘Riders of the Mist’ carries a background score by Joi Barua, including the song ‘Pitol Soku..’, which is a homage to the bareback riding tradition in Assam. It won the best documentary award at the Houston Indian Film Festival in March 2015 and special jury award at the Nashik Film Festival 2015. It has been selected as one of the top ten documentaries in India for the year 2015. It was also awarded a special mention by another popular blogging site, Indian Mutinees.
After this film was shown at film festivals, a horse breeding site from Australia contacted the filmmaker. Efforts are now on to do genetic testing on these ponies and map their DNA structure. The tests will be carried out in Texas, USA where the best facilities for equine genetics are available.
‘Riders of the Mist’ is waiting screening at many festivals over the coming year. Of special mention is a very special event in Manipur where the USA women’s polo team is coming to play in January, and the documentary has been invited to be screened there. It may be recalled that Manipur is the original home of polo. The indigenous pony there is similar to the pony used in the Jorhat races.