Village Rockstars out of Oscar race

It has been an incredible journey, says Rima Das, who made Village Rockstars

By Abdul Gani in Guwahati
  • Published 19.12.18, 1:22 AM
  • Updated 19.12.18, 1:22 AM
  • 2 mins read
A still from Village Rockstars A still from the film

Village Rockstars has failed to make it into the next round for the best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday announced that nine films have advanced to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 91st Academy Awards, according to the official Oscars website.

Village Rockstars, made almost single-handedly by self-taught filmmaker Rima Das, had travelled the globe before it was selected as the entry from India.

“Our journey towards the Oscars might end today, but it has been an incredible journey full of hopes and aspirations. Thank you for being there every step of the way! How we have all grown since we first began. Back then, little did we — my band of rockstars and I — know how far from the village our film would take us. From Toronto to Paris, Cairo to Los Angeles and all the way back home, the love which greeted us in every town, at every screening, was beyond any of our wildest dreams. Without that love, all its warmth and generosity, we could not have made it as far as we have. Thank you for opening your hearts to our film,” said Rima after the announcement.

The 87-minute film narrates the struggle which 10-year-old Dhunu, the protagonist, has to undergo while trying to achieve her goal under gender stereotypes on what a girl should do amid poverty and other hostile conditions. The film was shot in the filmmaker’s native village Kalardiya in Chhaygaon, around 50km from here.

The promotion for the film in the run-up to the Oscars saw the Assam government pitch in with Rs 1 crore to help Rima.

Funds were also raised through crowd-funding. But to get good publicity, more than Rs 5 crore was required.

So far, only three Indian films have been nominated in the best foreign film category at the Oscars — Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay (1988) and Lagaan (2001).

Los Angeles-based Academy of Motion Pictures members from all branches screened the original submissions in the category. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

Analysing the process to get the nominations, Amrit Pritam, one of the voting members, said that it’s an extremely tough process. “To select nine films from 87 is a really tough process. They would want perfection. I would have been much happier to see Village Rockstars in that list. But then Village Rockstars itself is a milestone for an Assamese film,” Amrit, who designed the sound for the film, said.

The film has already attended 80 festivals and won 44 awards. It was screened for several weeks in cinema halls.