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Miff 2020 Kick Starts With A Vibrant Opening Ceremony

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Jyothi Venkatesh

Mumbai International Film Festival 2020 kickstarted with a colourful and vibrant opening ceremony where the coveted Dr. V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Dr. S. Krishnaswamy, one of India’s most senior filmmakers, “for his lifelong, invaluable contribution to non-fiction filmmaking”. The prestigious award is presented in every edition of MIFF, to a filmmaker for seminal contribution to documentary films and its movement in India. It carries a cash award of 10 lakh rupees, trophy and a citation.

The Chief Guest for the opening ceremony, Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Babul Supriyo and the Guest of Honour, Minister for Cultural Affairs & Medical Education, Government of Maharashtra, Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh presented the award to Dr. Krishnaswamy. The son of the late doyen filmmaker V. Shantaram – Kiran Shantaram was also present on the occasion, when the award was conferred upon him by Babul Supriyo and Amit Deshmukh, who is incidentally the son of the late Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh and brother of actor Riteish Deshmukh.

Receiving the award, the veteran filmmaker who had produced and directed the four hour long documentary From Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi way back in 1976 said ” It is very difficult for the voice to come up when you are on cloud nine. It is a great privilege to receive this award from the documentary film making fraternity and Films Division at the hands of Shri Babul Supriyo and Shri Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh. I also deem it a great privilege to have V. Shantaram’s son with us to represent the great tradition and bestow me with this honour.”

Babul Supriyo recalled that it was back in 1948 that the pre-independence ‘Information Films of India’ gave way to transform itself into what we know today as ‘Films Division’. “What is remarkable about Films Division is its contribution to the documentary culture in the country as it has always strived to promote and nurture the documentary film, which is one of the most important mediums of audio-visual storytelling. One of the avenues through which it has been able to cement its position as an influential force in the world of documentary is through MIFF.

The Minister s also conceded that it is only if one believes in oneself and his idea that one can succeed in the film industry. “I am very proud that iconic films of legendary filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Mrinalda are presented at this edition of MIFF. I wish I could come back again to watch Rabindranath Tagore and Pikoo in this year’s edition of MIFF. I am also excited to know about some of the many highlights of this edition which includes a special package of films from European Union, Animation package from Russia, Finland and Balkan. Oscar nominated films such as Fauve, Detainment and Night at the Garden would also be screened while Ireland will showcase its best documentaries in the Country Focus section.”

The Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Atul Kumar Tiwari said that the festival will showcase the best documentaries, short fiction films and animation films drawn from all over the world and will also have engaging sessions. He reiterated that the Government of India has always been extending support in strengthening the documentary film movement and Films Division has been contributing to this movement, as well as towards preserving the rich cinematic history of India. “The non-feature genre got a boost in 1990 with the birth of MIFF and today MIFF is considered one of the best international platforms for non-feature films and filmmakers. MIFF, in a small and impactful way, tries to the rise to the occasion of making positive impact on society. MIFF has gone mobile this year, with a mobile app which provides all information and updates on the festival, he signed off.”

President, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), Smt Usha Deshpande said: “IDPA has been a partner in MIFF right from the beginning. We organize workshops, panel discussions and master classes and present an award for the best student film. This year, in collaboration with Films Division, we are helping organize special screenings on college campuses. We also try to explore problems and solutions faced by the documentary film industry. The documentary film industry fulfils a very important mission, and we deserve wide support in taking forward this movement.”

Addressing and welcoming the gathering, MIFF festival director and Director General, Films Division, Ms. Smita Vats Sharma said that documentary films hold a mirror to society and play a crucial role in documenting heritage, history and values of a nation and its people. She added, “With this mission in mind, MIFF was conceptualized as a platform to showcase the best in non-fiction filmmaking in 1990. MIFF has grown in stature from year to year. The 16th edition is here with more energy and passion.”

As part of MIFF 2020, she said that screenings of specially curated films will be held at Kalina campus of University of Mumbai, Deviprasad Goenka Management College at Malad and Usha Pravin Gandhi College Campus at Vile Parle to encourage and engage students at large to get involved in documentary film making and aesthetics. Legendary animation films will be screened at college campuses to attract young students. Ms Smita Vats also added that a mobile app for MIFF has also been launched, this year onwards where festival delegates can access all information and updates on the festival.

A cultural performance organized by India Tourism, Mumbai, showcasing the rich heritage and culture of India by Ms. Harshada Jambekar and her team enthralled the audience with rendition of traditional Maharashtrian folk dance – the very graceful & vibrant ‘lavani’. An eclectic dance performance “Nrutyarang” displayed the spirit and essence of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, through a confluence of different Indian classical dance styles and choreographed by Odissi exponent Smt. Shubhada Varadkar.

The Festival Director said in her vote of thanks that MIFF has emerged over the years as a platform not only for Indian filmmakers but also for filmmakers from across the world. “MIFF not only recognizes best talents in documentary, short fiction and animation films by bestowing Golden and  Silver Conches and trophies, but it also gives away handsome cash awards in different competition categories. The most prestigious award in the 16th MIFF, the Best Film of the Festival carries a cash prize of 10 Lakh rupees and Golden Conch while other awards carry cash awards varying from five to one-lakh rupees along with Silver Conch, trophy and certificate. IDPA award carrying Rs.1 lakh and trophy for the Best student film and Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for the Best Debut Director will also be presented on the closing day. Awards in various competition categories will also be presented on 3rd February at the closing ceremony and a special award for the best short film on ‘Water Conservation and Climate Change’ carrying One lakh cash and trophy has also been instituted in the current edition of the festival.

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