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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Geared for Screening

The second edition of Kelvin Cinema Festival is knocking at the door. Adity Choudhury writes about the selected short films for this edition that are all set to leave an impression on filmmakers and cinephiles, alike.

By Adity Choudhury

Cinematic gems often come in the form of short films. Over the years, cinephiles and filmmakers have found meaning in shorts. Film festivals also provide a platform to an underrated form. Notable among them are Bengaluru International Film festival (BIFF), International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), and Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival (MIDSFF). In North East India, one film festival is on a mission to celebrate short films – the second edition of Kelvin Cinema Festival (KCF) is slated for November 9 to 11, 2023.

Instituted by the Jeevan Ram Mungi Devi Goenka Public Charitable Trust (JRMDGPCT), the festival is organised by veteran producer-distributor-exhibitor, Shankar Lall Goenka, Fraternity Arts Cine Entertainment Shillong (FACES) and KCF family. It aims to be the best short film festival in the country.

National award-winning Garo filmmaker and Artistic Director, KCF, Dominic Sangma said, “Through KCF, we would like to celebrate the spirit of short films as underrated gems. This is our humble attempt to give a platform to diverse and inclusive cinema. We want to bring stories from our state and the region. In a global world, stories from North East should reach wider audiences.”

Twelve shorts have been selected for screening and competition. The total cash prize amounts to four lakhs in the following categories – best film, best director, best actor (male and female), best cinematography, best editor and best sound design.

The Jaintia film, Ka Chithi (The Letter) by Simi Khongtiang and Raphael Warjri’s Khasi film, Apot, will be the opening and closing films, respectively.

Khongtiang’s film is about 14-year-old Darika who lives with her grandparents, and is plagued with questions about her life that she cannot find answers to. Any attempt to find answers is shut down by those close to her. She finds a letter that changes her life. Will it provide answers or will she be left with more questions?

Warjri’s film showcases choices, decisions and consequences. ‘Tiewlarun’ is a forbidden flower, which when consumed has consequences. A beautiful woman is tempted to pluck it against the stringent warning of her brother earning his wrath. A pair of siblings faces the consequence of a plague that has claimed the lives of the entire village. As they roam the wilderness, their relationship evolves over a period of time, leading to tragic circumstances. Then, there is a prince whose heart desires the love of a mysterious lady he comes across on a hunting trip. How will circumstances play out now?

Meghalaya, in Focus

Three Khasi filmmakers – El Dhar, Sankirang Khongwir and Febbard Passah Lyngdoh – have made it to the list of selected shorts.

Dhar’s Jyllop, Khongwir’s Ka Pateng and Lyngdoh’s Gray will have world premieres at KCF.

Derived from the Khasi word, “ngamjyllop”, Jyllop explores the psyche of a man who experiences the sensation of drowning. Is it literal or metaphorical? Does the protagonist struggle with his sanity? Dhar goes on a visual journey to find answers in this fictional short. Daniel P Gatphoh, Melembadki Kharsati, Nixon R Kharbithai, and Dhar are producers of this film.

Death weighs heavy on a family where siblings are estranged. Thus, unfolds the story of Ka Pateng. How has separation shaped the characters coming to terms with their mother’s death? Memories and secrets intertwine with grief, guilt and regret. Khongwir traces the meaning of healing in his short film. Ponvishal Chidambaranathan has produced this film.

Gray has been produced by Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata. Meet Biscuit, a hitman, who works for a company that lets people hire a professional to shoot/kill them, whenever they want to kick the bucket. Two clients, however, seek some time. Life is about to take a turn for him as stakes rise.

An Eclectic Bunch

Bauddhayan (Buddy) Mukherji’s fictional short is titled 251. It will have a “North East Premiere”; earlier showcased at the 15th IDSFFK in August this year. The film delves into the horrors of COVID-19 and the nature of human endurance. As tragedy unfolds, the protagonist grapples with loss and trauma. Produced by Sohum Shah Films, the short may initiate a much-needed conversation about how the global lockdown shaped humanity.

Maharashtra-based filmmaker, Sourabh Dharamshale’s fictional short, Ek Divas (One Day) dwells on the nature of trauma, which takes a different form in his film that will have its “World Premiere” at KCF this year. It presents a world where lines are increasingly blurred between reality and denial. Sagar Mahindra has produced this film.

Loyah: A Fleeting Melody is about a woman’s journey to find herself… caught between societal expectations and her passion. The protagonist’s journey is seen through filmmaker, Jahanabi Moran’s eyes. This film will have its “World Premiere” in KCF. Apart from Moran, Shuktara Goswami, Akansha Gogoi, Khreisanyii Solo are the producers of this film.

The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) produced Nehemich brings a taboo topic to the fore that is tied to a particular belief of the people in a village. Yudhajit Basu’s fictional short will have a “North East Premiere”. It was the official selection at the 76th Festival De Cannes’ La Cinef section.

Reema Maya’s short, Nocturnal Burger, has been produced by the production house, Catnip. Unreliable narrators cross paths in a police station, caught between ‘what ifs’. It is upon a lady constable to figure out the sequence of events. This film will have a “North East Premiere”. It had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival, Utah, US, and was screened at Short Encounters International Film Festival (Greece), Tiete International Film Awards (Brazil) and Prisma Rome Independent Film Awards (Italy), to name a few.

Mukul Haloi’s documentary, Notes from a Dream, has been jointly produced by Docnomads and Haloi. Away from home in an alien land, a recurring dream comes back to the filmmaker. Like the name suggests, is this film, dreamlike? This docu-short will have a “World Premiere” at KCF 2023.

In his fictional drama, Prikto, writer-director-producer Jitu Das explores social differences between a man from a village who shares space with his friend’s roommate in Guwahati. His inner journey makes for a beautiful story as the film gears for its “World Premiere” in November.

Drawing parallels between two sets of filmmakers in two different worlds, Priya Naresh brings her documentary, Small-time Cinema, which has been produced by Seeds of Peace, US Embassy. Irrespective of whether they are aware of each other, what connects the filmmakers (in an invisible thread) is their devotion to cinema. Passion makes them resilient in the face of socio-political realities. All set for a “North East Premiere”, the docu-short was earlier screened at Bengaluru International Short Film Festival in 2023 and IDSFFK last year.

Akanshya Bhagabati’s, Matir Apon (Son of the Soil), packs a punch. A conflict surrounding land ownership surfaces between Haren, a native Assamese boy, who is also heir of the land and the Bengali-Muslim labourer, Ali, who is a third-generation immigrant. Produced by Hemanga Bhagabati, this short will have a “North East Premiere”. It has its world premiere at IDSFFK in August this year.

The Way Ahead

As the second edition of KCF looms large over the autumn skies of Shillong, filmmakers and film lovers will come together to celebrate the power of this art form.

The future of cinema in Meghalaya and the Northeastern region is already showing great potential. How it grows forward as a platform for diverse storytelling is upon us. The key is to remember that despite differences, it is a collective responsibility to march ahead in a global world that will contribute something meaningful for aspiring filmmakers now and in the future.

The three-day film festival will certainly fan inspiring ideas this year. Will you be there?

 

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