The 15th Annual New York Indian Film Festival wrapped up May 9 after six days of film screen- ings, illuminating industry panels, parties and more.
On the final evening, before the last night of festivities that had directors, actors, media and other VIPs
mingling into the wee hours at Manhattan’s Skirball
Center, judges selected the winners for eight prestigious
Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Labour Of Love was the
star of the night, taking in three awards — for Best
Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The full-length
silent, feature, set in Kolkata with Ritwick
Chakraborty and Basabdutta Chatterjee, has wowed
audiences and judges alike around the world. With a
litany of wins from other festivals, Labour Of Love
captures two lives in parallel under a single roof in an
empty house. Though without words, Sengupta’s work
is poetic. It touches on the themes of love, solitude,
change and the pursuit of dreams: universally resonant
and a highlight of the week.
Other awards went to Nawazuddin Siddiqui
for Haraamkhor (Best Actor), Kalki Koechlin
for Margarita, With a Straw (Best Actress), J Vinesh
and Ramesh shared for Kaakaa Muttai (Best Child
Actor), Seek & Hide by director Manoj Nitharwal (Best
Short Film) and Daughters And Mothers of India by
director Vibha Bakshi (Best Documentary Film).
All around, the films that received recognition, as well as the rest shown at
the festival, were gems in a space of Indian art which is growing in visibility
and vibrancy — outside the space of mainstream cinema and Bollywood. A
mix of long and shorts films, love stories and dramas, pieces in English, Hindi,
Urdu, Gujarati and more graced the screen. Filmmakers with roots in the subcontinent continue to reveal a talent and artistic vision that are competitive
with the best on a global level; still, a space dedicated exclusively to directors,
actors and more of Indian origin is important and necessary.
“We are so proud of all our award-winning filmmakers and all the film-
makers who have showcased quality, independent cinema at our festival
over the past week,” said Aroon Shivdasani, NYIFF director. “The response
from the community has been phenomenal and we hope NYIFF continues
to make a mark on the New York independent film circuit.”
Though other film festivals showcase films made by Indian directors,
like the South Asian International Film Festival and 3rd I, which takes
place on the West Coast, NYIFF is the longest-running South Asian film
festival in the US.
This year, the event drew in big names such as Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal
Mehta, Shonali Bose, Ananth Mahadevan, Mohan Agashe, L Subramaniam,
Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sharat Katariya, in addition to the winners.
Young emerging faces in the industry also showed up, ready to make a name for
themselves through their films. Samrat Chakrabarti, Jaydeep Sarkar, Anshuman
Jha, Abhay Kumar, Manu Warrier, Shlok Sharma, Manoj Nitharwal and Ravi
Kapoor were among the ranks of up-and-coming fresh filmmakers. n
M8 CINEMA WITH A SOUL/NYIFF
Shonali Bose, director of the much-acclaimed Margarita, With A Straw, poses with co-producer Nilesh Maniyar.
Glimpses of the fashion show at NYIFF.
Yet most films shown at the festival were gems in a space of Indian art which is growing
in visibility and vibrancy reports Chaya Babu.
Labour of Love,
the darling of NYIFF