The Northeast India AV Archive and the Department of Mass Media, St. Anthony’s College, Shillong is happy to announce that it will be hosting a three-day documentary film festival. This festival is supported by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan.
Films are a ubiquitous presence in our lives. Perhaps nothing speaks to the human imagination quite as strongly as the visual and audio medium of films. The reason for this is a simple one - films have been able to document and share the stories of experiences and occurrences of the everyday thereby rendering this medium of story-telling as the most relatable and powerful tool for inspiration, impact and sometimes even change. A story can be told in many formats and one such format is the documentary.
“Documentary” is a term that applies to the recording or documentation of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education or maintaining a historical record. Worldwide, documentary films have played a long and venerable role in the cultural life of modern society, whether the films in question are home-movies, government propaganda, ethnographic records, historical studies, explorations of the natural world, film essays, or any of the other varieties of forms that fall under the heading of non-fiction film.
Meghalaya was witness to the eclectic talent of filmmakers in the region during the three-day indie8 Film Festival organised by the Mass Media, St. Anthony’s College, Shillong in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture, Government of Meghalaya and Directorate of Information and Public Relations, in August of 2013. The following films screened at the event may be mentioned: ''Khawnglung Run'', an epic film by Mapuia Chawngthu, based on true events of the historical massacre of Khawnglung in Mizoram during 1856-1859; ''19/87'', by Dondor E. Lyngdoh and Wanphrang Diengdoh (alumni Department of Mass Media) which captures the nuanced and complexity of relationships between communities in Meghalaya; ''Songs of Mashangva'', by a National award winning filmmaker Oinam Doren (alumnus); “The Silent Poet”, a film on Irom Sharmila by Borun Thokchom (alumnus) and bagged a National award for it; ''Mayong'', a film from Assam by Utpal Borpujari; “Silently the Drums wait”, by Moji Riba; ''The Bangle'', set in Tripura, by Rev Fr. Joseph Pulinthanath, SDB; 'Nokpante'', by Guestar Langstang, D. Banjop Mukhim, and Salchirik Sangma; “Katha’’ by Prashant Rasaily set in a hamlet in East Sikkim, along the Indo-China border.
What emerged as a result of the 2013 indie8 Film Festival was the awareness that young budding talents keenly watch for any opportunity to broaden their perspective on creative avenues into which they may want to venture. Further, the involvement of school-going students and learners in the community was a worthwhile initiative as it gave the latter the opportunity to interact closely with nationally and internationally acclaimed film-makers thereby exposing them not just the finished product of the film but also an awareness of some of the struggles involved in the art. Most importantly, the sense of possibility that is instilled in young minds when they witness that stories are multilingual and multi-faceted, that there is not just one language in which to tell it or one way of telling it. True to its title, indie8 (indie, which is short for independent) gave many independent film-makers from the region the acknowledgement and space that they deserve.
Furthermore, with support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, in 2019 the Yamagata International Film Festival, Japan put together a special section titled ‘Rustle of Spring, Whiff of Gunpowder: Documentaries from Northeast India’. The programme held at Yamagata city, Japan, showcased a selection of sixteen films from Northeast India and hosted events welcoming five of the directors of these documentary films.
With these two well-received events in mind, The Northeast India Audio-visual Archive, the Department of Mass Media, St. Anthony’s College, Shillong and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan is organising another edition of the indie8 Film Festival with special focus on documentary films from Northeast India. The festival is slated for the 8th to the 10th of March, 2023.
The objectives of the festival are:
● To showcase and celebrate the work of several independent documentary filmmakers from the North-eastern region
● To create a serious documentary film-viewing culture.
● To encourage serious learning about the art of documentary film-making through workshops thereby helping students and aspirants understand this medium better.
● To involve the students and learners from schools and learning institutes in the community.