By Meghmala Choudhury
The 7th edition of the two days long CNFF 23 concluded on the 10th of September at Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio in Guwahati. The central theme of CNFF is ‘Our Heritage, Our Pride,’ accompanied by a variety of sub-themes, ranging from social reformers to handicrafts and textiles. The films screened during the two-day festival vividly depicted these themes, offering a visual ethnographic exploration of Indian culture.
Marvin Harris and Orna Johnson, renowned anthropologists, described ethnography as ‘literally a portrait of a people.’ The shortlisted filmmakers of CNFF were able to capture multiple moving ‘portraits’ of Indian culture, transforming themselves into not just filmmakers but also visual ethnographers.
CNFF23 was inaugurated by Prof. (Dr.) Piyush Roy, a filmmaker, columnist, and Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at R.V University, Bengaluru. The film-screening had its beginning with a dance version of the Vande Mataram, choreographed, edited and produced by wellknown Satriya Dancer Prerona Bhuyan.
The inaugural film of the festival was “Durga Chitra Sala,” directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Rajendra Janglay. This cinematic work was centered around the distinguished Padma Shri awardee artist Durgabai Vyam, renowned for her contributions to the Gond tradition of Tribal Art in Barbaspur, Madhya Pradesh. The film meticulously scrutinized the intricate interplay between Durgabai’s life, her familial ties, and the environmental context that enveloped her. Ahok Meena and Sudip Sohni, associated with the film in various capacities had represented Rajendra Janglay at the festival.
An interactive session among the students of Bhupen Hazarika Film and TV Institute, some film lovers and Dr Piyush Roy was a thought provoking and interesting session of the festival. Indrani Laskar, Vice-President of Chalachitram Society moderated the session. The session ranged from whether AI can ever replace human involvement in filmmaking to lively anecdotes from Dr. Roy’s time as an editor of Stardust magazine.
Among the subsequent screenings that garnered appreciation from the audience were “Jnanda: Reflections of Light & Shade” by Bobbeeta Sarma, “Nyra’s Dream” by Shalaka Kulkarni, Reminiscence of Gangour by Sudip Sohni, Lakhi Mai by Nitesh Kumar, Main azad Hoon by Bhasker Vishwanathan and “Hands of A…” by Snigdha Roy.
The second day of the festival witnessed the premiere of the silent film ‘Prabahini,’ written by Utpal Datta and directed by Prabal Khaund. This modern interpretation of a cinematic style prominent in the late 19th century is truly groundbreaking.
A stalwart of Bollywood cinema, director Rahul Rawail, took the spotlight on the second day of the festival. Known for popular movies like Love story, Betab, Anjaam, Arjun, he was both dazzling and humorous, displaying down-to-earth charm during the interactive session. Rahul Rawail also added a literary touch to the event by launching the book ‘Past Revisited.’ Prantik Deka a senior cine journalist and film producer of the country and this is his first book. Rahul Rawail honours Shi Deka with his book- Raj Kapoor : the master at work.
As CNFF23 concluded on the 10th of September, the cinematic presentations significantly enriched one’s understanding of the diverse identities and cultures within India. The festival is set to return next year in September.
CNFF23 Film Festival Results:
The award for Best Film went to “Kameez,” directed and produced by Dhrubajit Baishya. In the category of Best NE Film, “Mukha – The Mask” directed and produced by Pranab Sarmah was the winner. Best Director was awarded to Biswajit Das for the film “March.” Gunjan Kashyap received the award for Best Screenplay Writer for the film “Home Brews: Struggles for a Tradition.” Sumedha Bhattacharyya was recognised for Best Cinematography in the film “Mau: The Spirit Dreams of Cheraw.” A Jury Special Mention for Best Child Actor was given to Rajveer Pardeshi for the film “Chirbhog.”
The members of the Jury were Dr. Piyush Roy, Meghachandra Kongbam and Shiladitya Bora.
Photos by Rituraj Gogoi and Ratan Sil Sharma