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Manipur film fest draws selection flak

Imphal, Dec. 22: Some filmmakers were “disappointed” after celebrated documentary film Silent Poet and national-award winning films Leipaklei and Fijigee mani were left out of the 8th Manipur Film Festival — being held after a gap of three years.

A selection committee shortlisted nine feature films and 12 non-feature films for competition out of 72 films made in the past three years.

Aribam Syam Sharma’s Leipaklei had won the prestigious Rajat Kamal at the 60th National Film Awards in 2012 while Oinam Gautam’s Manipuri film, Fijigee mani (The only gem), won the best regional film award at the 59th National Film Awards. Leishangthem Tonthoi also won the National Award for best supporting actress for her role in Fijigee mani.

Young documentary filmmaker Thokchom Borun’s Silent Poet, which documents the poetic side of human rights crusader Irom Sharmila, was also not selected.

The state film festival, organised by the Manipur Film Development Corporation, began on December 18 and will conclude on Tuesday.

“The festival provides an opportunity to screen award-winning films for viewers. Not finding some of them on the list is discouraging and disappointing,” Syam Sharma, the Grand Prix award winning filmmaker, told The Telegraph.

The selection of Sharma’s Manipuri Pony in the non-feature film section has not consoled the filmmaker. “A film festival is an opportunity for pure cinema. I don’t question the wisdom of the selection committee. But I am disappointed. Forget about my film, the non-selection of Borun’s Silent Poet is discouraging,” Sharma said.

Silent Poet had won the award for best debut film at the 59th National Film Awards.

“The aim of a film festival is to promote good and quality films. People have been waiting for this festival as it came after three years. Non-selection of the award-winning films is certainly not promotion of good films,” said Sunzu Bachaspatimayum, president of Imphal’s Television and Cine Foundation, an independent filmmaking group.

He said the festival should honour award-winning films and screen them at a different category because they brought glory to the state and the Manipuri film industry.

“Many filmmakers are disillusioned after the rejection of the award-winning films,” Sunzu, whose non-feature film Heart-to-Heart has been selected, said.

Besides Heart-to-Heart, there is another National Award-winning film — Oinam Doren’s Songs Mashangva — in the documentary section of the festival.

The managing director of the Manipur Film Development Corporation, K. Sabita, said a committee selected the films, and the corporation and organisers did not have any comments on it.

She, however, added that in the next festival there would be a non-competition section.