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INDIE-8 Film Fest in Shillong

By Fr. Joby Joseph SDB & Prof. Rosemary Ishorary
Meghalaya Governor Inaugurating the Film Fest. Br. Albert SDB, the Principal of the College, is also seen in the photo.
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Shillong, Aug. 12. Capturing the very essence and magic of film-making in the Northeast of India, indie8 a film festival, the first of its kind in Shillong, took the city by storm on the 1st of August, 2013. An event organised by the Mass Media Department of  St. Anthony;s College, Shillong in association with the Department of Arts and Culture, Government of Meghalaya and Directorate of Information and Public Relations, it created a common platform for filmmakers from the eight states of the northeast to gather and exchange their experience, ideas and knowledge of film making with the ever enthusiastic lovers of the art.
The three days of the festival witnessed the screening of films that have received critical acclaim and have been featured in other regional, national and international forums. Not only did the themes of the films highlight varied aspects of life and culture within the region, but the films themselves were a poignant reflection of the pain, passion and hard-work that goes into the making of such media texts, shot by shot and sequence by sequence.

While filmmakers like Borun Thokchom, spent four years in completing a seventeen minutes long film called ''The Silent Poet'', bringing out the poetic side of Irom Sharmila, charged for fighting against the ''Armed Forces Special Power's Act 1958'', and went on to receive the National award for it, others the likes of Prashant Rasaily, worked with limited resources and yet with his sheer aesthetic sense could arrest the haunting beauty of a little hamlet in East Sikkim, along the indo-china border, in his film ''Katha''.  

The opening film of the fest, was ''Songs of Mashangva'', another National award winning film by Oinam Doren. It documented the journeys of Rewben Mashangva through different Naga Tangkhul villages collecting rhythm, melody and lyrics for his music, which he calls the Naga Blues.

The other films screened were ''Mayong'', a film from Assam by Utpal Borpujari; ''....And Silently the Drums wait'', by Moji Riba; ''Khawnglung Run'', an epic film by Mapuia Chawngthu, based on true events of the historical massacre of Khawnglung in Mizoram during 1856-1859; ''The Bangle'', set in Tripura, by Rev Fr. Joseph Pulinthanath, sdb; ''Nokpante'', by Guestar Langstang, D. Banjop Mukhim, and Salchirik Sangma; And ''19/87'', by Dondor E. lyngdoh and Wanphrang Diengdoh.

Also screened at the festival, ''The Test'', by Yirmiyan Arthur Yhome, a film from Nagaland, is the story of women living and struggling with a feared disease. Their real pain and suffering being the stigma associated with it. Present among the audience at the screening was someone infected by HIV who after the screening of the film, gave a touching and very real account of what living with the virus means. Starting off by dispelling the unease among the audience who sat stumped in silence when he introduced himself, by saying that there was nothing to be so serious about, he went on to emphasise that it is the stigma and not the infection that kills many like him.

The festival also saw the premier of the film ''Ka Lad'' by Dondor E. lyngdoh and Gautam Syiem that takes a look at a day in the lives of four individuals: an architect, a barber, a tea stall owner and a contractor, whose fates are intertwined with the Lad (junction). None can escape the reality of a town witnessing alterations every day.

The special screening of ''The Ship of Theseus'', that premiered in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and received critical acclaim and positive reviews from both national and international press ever since was one of the major highlights of the festival. The Director of Photography, ''Pankaj kumar'' welcomed questions from the audience thereafter. ''The Ship of Theseus'' is a film that, ''questions identity, justice, beauty, meaning and death through the stories of an experimental photographer, an ailing monk and an enterprising stockbroker.''

The festival also included workshops, panel discussions and a short film competition. The panel discussions brought to light issues like funding, marketing and distribution among the target audience that often act as a bane in the whole art of film-making. It questioned the disturbing trend of a lack of enough women film-makers among us and the reality of the never ending battle between film-making as a source of earning one's bread and butter or as an art-form that transcends all boundaries and constraints.

A half an hour talk by renowned filmmaker Sanjay Kak on ''Documentary films and the Indian reality'' brought more insight into an art-form that has its own constraints in the social-political milieu that filmmakers of India exist in.

The film festival that kick-started with a much appreciated inaugural function that celebrated the spirit and passion of indie8, with the Honourable Governor of Meghalaya as the Chief Guest ended with a closing ceremony graced by His Excellency, The Maharaja of Tripura.

Pioneering new ventures and setting new trends and standards has always been the hallmark of the Mass Media Department of St. Anthony's College Shillong. With indie8, it has now added another feather to its cap.
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