MUMBAI— Marathi Cinema swept the 2nd Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries (EDIFD), Scotland’s biggest showcase of the best in new and classic Indian Cinema. The small but fast-progressing film industry of India’s North-East made a grand international debut with director Taikumzuk Aier winning the prestigious Golden Calton award for Best Director for the Nagamese film “Nana – A Tale of Us.”
Aier celebrated the achievement as “History being made for Nagamese cinema and the cinema of North-Eastern India.” The visibly emotional director in his acceptance speech said, “Thank you so much, Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries for this Golden Calton Best Director 2017. It’s amazing. It’s overwhelming. I didn’t expect this. I still can’t believe that I won this. Thank you for inviting my film. It is, I think, the first film from Nagaland to win an award for the first time. It has been amazing three days. I saw wonderful films, which I could not see anywhere else.”
Popular Marathi actor-singer Prasad Oak’s debut directorial venture, the poignant “Kaccha Limbu,” which got a standing ovation from the audience, was awarded the Golden Calton for Best Film. An excited Oak said, “‘Kaccha Limbu’ is my debut, and this is the first-ever award we got for this film. It’s like a dream come true to get my first award from such a prestigious festival.”
Actress Pooja Sawant won The Golden Calton for Best Performance in a Lead Role for “Lapachhapi,” which is already being acknowledged as a game-changer film in the horror genre in Indian cinema. Veteran Marathi actress Usha Naik won the Golden Calton Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for the same film, while the entire cast of “Kaccha Limbu” was awarded a Jury Special Mention for the Best Ensemble Performance for their “extremely moving and wonderful acts.”
In a unique first, both male and female actors together competed for the EFIFD acting honors, as the awards were presented for overall acting achievements. Vishal Furia, the director of “Lapachhapi” said, “We are truly honored to have won the acting awards. It gives us a lot of confidence to pursue our efforts to make honest and sincere cinema. It’s a very progressive step for Indian cinema.”
Five new feature films, representing a diversity of big and independent film industries across India, were showcased within the ‘competition’ category of the festival and competed for The Golden Caltons. These were judged by an eminent all-women jury featuring international film scholars, curators and eminent Scottish talents from the field of cinema and other arts. They included the founder of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival, Marian A. Aréchaga; academic, poet, children’s writer, translator and director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies, Prof. Bashabi Fraser; the deputy artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Diane Henderson and trustee of the Edinburgh Iranian Festival and curator of its Iranian Film Season, Anna Montazam.
Montazam summed up the jury experience stating, “It was a great experience and showed me how varied and vast India really is. One of the things I love most about cinema is its ability to show the heart and soul of a country you may know nothing about.” The jury also awarded Special Mention certificates to Rahul R. Dahiya’s “G Kutta Se” for Best Story and recognized “Gautamiputra Satakarni” for its Epic Spectacle.
Rishika Namdev’s path-breaking investigative film “Daslakhiya” won the Audience Choice Award for Best Film (Documentary) while Vinod Rawat’s “MAD,” revolving around a breezy conversation with candid revelations between a mother and a daughter over a drink, won the Audience Choice Award for Best Film (Short).
A highlight of EFIFD this year was the screening of the digitally restored, colorized version of the K. Asif’s classic romance, “Mughal-e- Azam,” for the first time in Scotland.
According to curator and festival director, Dr. Piyush Roy, a University of Edinburgh alumnus, critic and writer, “Made by passionate, independent voices, with dedicated efforts at creating a signature vision, style, and talent, the films on show in EFIFD 2017 were successful in engaging Scottish and international audiences to be a part of ongoing conversations that are shaping a restless and young, dynamic nation at 70, proudly seeking and sourcing its identity from the culture cord of a civilization dating centuries into antiquity. These memorable short and long takes enjoy global resonance because of their empathetic understanding and sharing of some unique local experiences.”
The winners took home a beautiful and representative piece of Scotland, The Golden Calton Plaque, whose design is inspired by an iconic Edinburgh monument.
Between them, the 14 films on show, covered a range of universal themes like cultural memory, gender identities, mental health, disappeared and displaced publics, urban loneliness and voyeurism. These were shortlisted from a combined submission of nearly 50 entries across the categories of feature films, short films, and documentaries and screened through the last weekend of November at the landmark Grassmarket Community Project theatre in the heart of the old city of Edinburgh.
HONOUR ROLL – EFIFD 2017
THE GOLDEN CALTONS
1. Best Film – Prasad Oak for “Kaccha Limbu”
2. Best Director – Tiakumzuk Aier for “Nana—A Tale of Us”
3. Best Performance in a Lead Role – Pooja Sawant for “Lapachhapi”
4. Best Performance in a Supporting Role – Usha Naik for “Lapachhapi”
5. Audience Award for Best Short Film – Vinod Rawat for “MAD”
6. Audience Award for Best Documentary – Rishika Namdev for “Daslakhiya”
7. Jury Special Mention – Story – Rahul R. Dahiya for “G Kutta Se”
8. Jury Special Mention – Best Ensemble Performance for “Kaccha Limbu”
9. Jury Special Mention–Epic Spectacle for “Gautamiputra Satakarni”