Veteran wildlife filmmaker Naresh Bedi was honoured with the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award as the 14th edition of the Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF 2016) got underway here today.
The festival was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in the presence of veteran film maker Shyam Benegal, MIFF brand ambassador Jackie Shroff, Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) President Mike Pandey and Festival Director Mukesh Sharma.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, comprising a trophy, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, is instituted in memory of legendary film maker V Shantaram, who was head of the Films Division in the past.
Bedi, eldest of the Bedi Brothers, is counted amongst the foremost wildlife documentary makers, being the first Asian to receive the Wildscreen Red Panda award. A graduate of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Bedi has made films which have been shown on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, Channel 4, and so on.
He is credited with filming several rare wildlife moments. His film ‘Cherub of the Mist’ about the life of two red pandas was the opening film of the festival.
Speaking on the occasion, Col. Rathore said digital technology had ushered in a new era in film making and was greatly contributing to the documentary film movement. He said MIFF was playing a pivotal role in promoting documentary and short film culture in the country by providing a platform for filmmakers to exchange ideas.
“It is heartening to note that our film makers, despite great financial hurdles, have gone ahead and made excellent films, displaying a mature approach while dealing with social and economic issues. Such films should not remain unseen,” he said.
Col Rathore said the Government would consider making one of the Doordarshan channels, perhaps DD Bharati, a platform to promote documentary films. He asserted that the Government hadno interest in curbing the creativity of filmmakers and added that the I&B Ministry had set up a committee under Mr. Benegal to look into the revamp of film certification process.
Mr. Fadnavis said the Maharashtra government was ready to allot land in Film City in Mumbai for setting up a National Institute of Animation & Short Films.
"Documentary films are close to my heart, I myself want to make a documentary film tracing my mother’s journey from Turkmenistan to India," actor Shroff said.
MIFF 2016, a biennial event organized by the Films Division of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and supported by the Government of Maharashtra will feature 30 films in international competition, including 12 from India and 27 films in national competition vying for the Golden Conch Award. The festival will screen a total of 385 films over the six-day event.
The screenings will be held at the Films Division theatres, Russian Cultural Centre and Sophia College theatres at Pedder Road, Mumbai. Screenings will also be held at the Mumbai University auditorium Kalina, Mumbai and Doordashan Kendra (Worli).
Apart from international and national competition, there will be screening of films in MIFF Prism, Indian premieres, Jury retrospectives, Animation and award winning films from different countries, Children’s documentary films, North East package, Films Division and PSBT (Public Service Broadcasting Trust) films and homages.
The festival also presents special packages from leading international documentary film festivals like Berlin, Dresden, DokLeipzig from Germany and Leiria from Portugal.
Some of the best documentaries of 2015, among them Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi’s Among the Believers, a new documentary about the roots of religious extremism in Pakistan and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a Danish documentary about Indonesian killings of 1965-66, and Rinku Kalsy’s For the Love of a Man, a documentary about the cult of adulation for Rajinikant in South India, are among the top attractions at the festival.
The International Jury for the Festival comprises prominent documentary makers Don Askarian from Germany, Jesper Andersen from Denmark, Mathiue Roy of Canada, Siddharth Kak and Gitanjali Rao. Mike Pandey, Uma DaCunha, Biju Dhanapalan, Audrius Stonys (Lithuania) and Jane Yu (Taiwan) are the members of the National Jury.
The festival will also have master classes by jury and eminent film makers, Camera and Digital workshops, Producers’ Forum, Panel discussions, Seminar and Open Forum by IDPA, under the MIFF Hub. Cash prizes worth Rs 60 lakh would be distributed for the winners in various categories along with Golden Conch Awards.