In Focus

MIFF 2020 closes with a glittering ceremony!

Team DCF | Mumbai

The Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) for Documentary, Short Fiction and Animation Films' 16th edition concluded on 3 February 2020. The oldest international event for non-feature films in South Asia came to a close with a glittering ceremony at the Nehru Centre Auditorium, Worli in Mumbai. Awards for the best films of the festival were presented at the closing ceremony.

The prestigious Golden Conch Award for Best Documentary Film at MIFF 2020 was awarded to Babenco: Tell Me When I Die, directed by Barbara Paz. The film, a tender immersion into the life of the South American filmmaker and Paz’s late life partner Hector Babenco was selected for the highest honour at the festival “for its intimate and celebratory portrayal of the Brazilian film director and his reflections of life - and death”.

Receiving the award on behalf of the director, Consul General of Brazil Guilherme Patriota read out a written message from Barbara Paz: "Winning this award fills me with huge emotion and it is from India, a country I love and admire. I wish I could be with you to receive the prize in person. I always dreamed of getting to know India but unfortunately I can't be with you today. I thank you from my heart. Babenco is a film about love, the love of cinema, the love of life. It is a film about how to say farewell to life by doing what you love, filming till the last. Brazil thanks you for this prize. Director Babenca is dancing in Paradise".

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Short Fiction Film was conferred on the Marathi film Paavsacha Nibandh (An Essay of Rain). Directed by Nagaraj Manjule, the film tells the story of a ten-year-old boy who writes an essay on rain for a school assignment. The film has been chosen for the award “for its evocation of a grim social reality through the metaphor of rain that transforms into an unwritten essay”.

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Animation Film was shared by two films – German film Portrait of Suzanne, directed by Izabela Plucinska and the Indian film Panangaatu Nari (The Fox of the Palmgrove) by Divakar S. K.

The full list of award-winning films and filmmakers across various categories can be found here, along with details such as the jury’s citations, etc.

Addressing the gathering, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari highlighted the important role of documentary films and exhorted filmmakers to improve public awareness and sensitivity towards societal and humanitarian issues to inculcate higher values and inspire actions among people. He said that this will make such films timeless and remembered and lived by generations to come.

International Jury Chairman Shaji N. Karun said for filmmakers, Films Division is the history of India; it is the emotional history of the nation. "Documentaries represent the real history of India. I thank fellow jury members for their untiring efforts in selecting the best films to be screened at the festival. In order to bring more stability to a great and important festival such as MIFF, we like to recommend to create a position of independent artistic director or curator, so as to acquire the best films from India and the world for the festival, based on a wider and deeper philosophy. The Organizing Committee should be formed at least one year in advance, for better programming and for providing better information to the public on the films on offer. One copy of the winning film should be deposited with the National Film Archive of India."

Congratulating the winners, Minister for Cultural Affairs and Medical Education, Government of Maharashtra Amit Deshmukh said the national and international jury members had a very interesting and challenging time to judge and assess the films and decide on the winners in various categories. He added that MIFF has achieved great heights over the years. He noted that Nagaraj Manjule’s Sairat won hearts of people around the world, it crossed all the boundaries in terms of cinema. “The Government of Maharashtra is going to do everything possible in order to promote the film sector. The Union Government and the state government must come together in order to create new avenues for filmmaking, to give infrastructure to experiment and produce films which can cater to the world. Films are a great contributor to the economy as well.”

National Jury Chairman Thomas Waugh said that the National Jury had an enjoyable and challenging week. “Part of the challenge has been the diversity of the films. We need to reach out to the global animation community and get a larger representation of animation films. We need to reach out further to the producers of feature-length documentaries. We need to focus more on independent documentary production. We need to increase the number of selected films, so that a broader range of films can be examined by both national and international juries. The new section on water conservation is a very promising development. We are very proud of the strong representation of woman directors in the National Competition Section.”

Addressing the gathering, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Atul Kumar Tiwari said that awards are a small effort by the Government to deepen the documentary film culture in India, in line with its quest for more meaningful and better cinema. He noted MIFF 2020 has instituted a special award for the best short film on Water Conservation and Climate Change. He said that Films Division has been responsible for keeping the flag of documentary films flying high. He hoped that with evolving technology, the coming editions will have a cornucopia of mind-blowing documentary films.

Presenting the report of the festival, the Festival Director and Director General, Films Division Smita Vats Sharma said the festival featured a rich tapestry of film screenings and events and was a sum total of a variety of unique experiences for the festival delegates. She assured the festival will be back with a bigger and more enriched next edition.