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Payeng film gets Cannes award

Jadav Payeng. File picture

Jorhat, May 26: The incredible story of Jadav Payeng, the man who single-handedly planted nearly 1,400 acres of forest, has won hearts and an award at Cannes.

Forest Man, based on Payeng, won the best documentary award at The American Pavilion at the film festival.

William Douglas McMaster is the film’s director and Mike Ritchie its sound engineer. Both are from Canada.

Since 1989, The American Pavilion has given opportunities to young and emerging filmmakers to showcase their talent at Cannes at the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase.

McMaster told Bijit Dutta, the youth who facilitated his meeting with Jadav Payeng at Kartik Sapori, about his win yesterday.

Payeng is known as the Forest Man of India because he had single-handedly planted trees on a Brahmaputra sandbar near Majuli that has grown into a small forest, now known as Molai Kathonibari.

Payeng said he was happy that the film got an award. “I am very happy that the film has won an award. But I am more happy that this has been viewed by a global audience and that McMaster has taken my message of conservation of the environment to the world,” he said.

Payeng said McMaster and R.T. Srivastav, a Mumbai director who had made a documentary on him earlier, informed him about the award.

McMaster had earlier told The Telegraph that he wanted to tell a positive story — a story about someone who has taken matters into his own hands.

“We showed that though Payeng lives a simple life, he still made a big difference in the world. Also, we examined Payeng’s ideas on how to stop erosion along the Brahmaputra through plantation and how frustrating it is that no one in the government has adopted the idea.” McMaster, who is in his early thirties, said.

“Payeng is a very special person. From the moment I met him I could sense his charisma, intelligence, and positive energy. He was extremely hospitable to us, welcoming us into his home and showing us his forest,” he said.

The other two emerging documentaries were Being Different If You’re A Weddell Seal In Antarctica, a 13-minute American documentary on Weddell seal pups in Antarctica directed by Mary Lynn Price, and Humanexus, directed by Ying Fang Shen.

Humanexus is a story of mankind’s search for ways to connect, from cave drawings to tweeting.