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Breaking now: Arunachal to screen films

- Devoid of functional halls, movie buffs in state to get a glimpse of acclaimed works from Wednesday

Itanagar, June 17: In the absence of any functional cinema hall, Arunachal Pradesh may be the last place that comes to mind when one hears of “film festivals”. All that is set to change tomorrow when the capital hosts the Arunachal edition of Mumbai International Film Festival.

Organised by Films Division of India and the state directorate of information and public relations, the three-day event at Hotel Tosum here will screen 31 award-winning documentaries, shorts and animation films from the film festival. Three Films Division documentaries on Arunachal will also be screened.

The festival will begin with the screening of the Oscar-nominated short film, The Little Terrorist, directed by Ashvin Kumar from 11am.

Filmmaker Taro Chatung from Arunachal hopes the festival will encourage interested people from the frontier state to pursue a career in the field. “Although film festivals have been held in the state before, the film fraternity here will be able to learn a lot from this event,” he says. “It will also give an idea to producers on what goes into making a good film.” he added.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at Rajiv Gandhi University here, Moji Riba, feels the festival will give a boost to budding filmmakers. “Nowadays, with easy access to technology, almost anyone has a shot at becoming a filmmaker. But we often forget that just having the tools of filmmaking like a digital camera or an editing software does not make one a good director,” he said.

The Rolex Award for Enterprise winner, who has made several documentaries on subjects dealing with tribal identity in Arunachal and the region, said, “We need to learn and study the art of telling stories. And that’s where film festivals are a great source of learning. Our new filmmakers need to see films, need to understand the language of the medium. What better way to do it than a film festival at our doorstep?”

The state government has put in efforts to promote filmmaking and has organised the Arunachal Film Festival for the past two years. However, even with the inclusion of a competitive round, the festival has not been able to draw large crowds. There is only one movie hall in Itanagar but that too is non-functional.

The Calcutta branch manager of the Films Division, S. Mukherjee, said Arunachal Pradesh is the last stop for the international film festival, which has already been showcased in all other northeastern states. He said the festival was a “tremendous hit in Manipur and Assam but the response in Nagaland and other places was weak”. However, he is hopeful the festival finds takers here.

“These films are not easily available in the market and we want people to get a glimpse of films that have won acclaim across the globe,” Mukherjee said.

Besides films by Indian directors and from various other countries, three films dealing with Arunachal — Aribam Syam Sharma’s Monpas of Arunachal Pradesh, V. Packirisami’s The March of Time and Marnia Doyom’s The Rich Practice — will be screened at the festival. Of the three, Doyom is the only Arunachalee filmmaker.

On the lack of more films by filmmakers from the state in the event roster, Mukherjee said their knowledge about the state was limited and admitted “it was our drawback”. “Hopefully the next time there will be a greater inclusion of locally-made films,” he said.

DARK THEATRES

Arunachal had just two cinema halls that closed down over a decade back

Last film screened at National Cinema, Naharlagun

Reasons for closure

Low audience turnout with easily available pirated films from the Internet and new releases telecast on cable channels

Hall owners unable to meet rising costs because of change in the distribution system.

Earlier owners paid distributors for film reels post profit. Owing to digitisation, pay-per-view has become the norm

Failure to tap multiplex culture