Manipuri Film Festival Makes Debut In Capital

NEW DELHI, Mar 10: If one were to mention Imagi Ningthem, a Manipuri feature film, not many of us would know that it received the Golden Montgolfiere at the Nantes film festival in 1982 and the silver lotus at the National Film Festival. Although a lot of Manipuri films have received global acclaim, they have failed to carve a niche in the national imagination with the state being always associated with images of insurgency and unrest.

A first-ever Manipuri film festival — Nongpokthong (Eastern Gate) — in Delhi is attempting to change all that. The five-day festival (March 9-13), which is being organized by the Manipur Film Development Corporation, will showcase around 40 feature and non-feature films both old and new. Apart from the Siri Fort Auditorium, which screened the inaugural film Ishanou (was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1991), on Wednesday, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University colleges — Lady Shri Ram, Daulat Ram, Dayal Singh and Indraprastha — are the other venues for the festival.

“Coming from a small state like Manipur, it is difficult to get recognition as a filmmaker in India. Strangely, international recognition came easier to me. One hopes that the festival will help the young filmmakers from Manipur to get noticed,” said 75-year-old Abiram Syam Sharma, the director of Imagi Ningthem and Ishanou.

From the first feature film Matamgi Manipur in 1972 the film industry in Manipur has come a long way.

“In late 1990s a ban on Hindi films was imposed in Manipur. This was an attempt to resist the ‘Hindiisation’ of films. Insurgency led to a decline in economic situation of the state, making films on celluloid expensive. In 2002, a digital revolution swept the entire film industry and today around 60 to 70 digital feature films are churned out every year. In fact, ours is the only full-fledged digital film industry in the country today,” said Haobam Paban Kumar, maker of Mr. India, a documentary on a HIV positive person who wins the title against all odds.

Mr. India will also be screened at the festival.

(Courtesy: Joyeeta Ghosh, Hindustan Times)

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