Documentary filmmakers Kavita Bahl and Nandan Saxena will receive a National FIlm Award on Sunday for their most recent exploration of the intersection between government policy, livelihood, the ecology and human rights. In I Cannot Give You My Forest, Kondh adivasis from Rayagada in Orissa simply but powerfully demonstrate their symbiotic relationship with the forest, which is a rich source of nutrition for them. The 30-minute documentary emphasises the need to preserve India’s forests from commercial exploitation, and is the latest attempt by the filmmakers to throw a light on the fragile state of India’s national resources.

I cannot give you my Forest-Promo-H264-45sec-1080p- Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl (India) from Kavita Bahl on Vimeo.

Bahl and Saxena are no strangers to awards. Cotton for My Shroud, made in 2011, also won a national award for Best Investigative Film. The 52-minute documentary examines the spate of suicides by farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, caused in part by heavy debt and dependence on high-yield seeds pushed by the Monsanto Corporation.

In 2013, the Delhi-based directors looked at the crisis facing the agriculture sector in Punjab by interviewing the widows of farmers who had committed suicide. The absorbing Candles in the Wind has been widely screened at several festivals, and it won a special mention at the 2013 National Film Awards as well as the John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary at the Signs film festival in Kerala the following year.

Dammed, also made in 2013, takes the filmmakers to Madhya Pradesh. The big dam critique is narrated from the point of view of activists and locals from Khandwa district, who stand neck-deep in the waters of the Narmada River to register their peaceful protest against the dumping of dam water on their fields and the paltry compensation being offered to get off the land of their ancestors. Like all of the duo’s projects, Dammed is a beautifully shot and produced protest film that reveals the fault lines between Indian rural and tribal communities on the one side and the government and corporations on the other.