Manipuri director Haobam Paban Kumar’s Lady of the Lake won the top prize, or Golden Gateway, in the Indian competition section and Davy Chou’s Cambodian coming-of-age movie Diamond Island won the award in the international competition category at the Mumbai Film Festival. The festival, organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image, ran from October 20-27, and included screenings of contemporary films from India and around the world, restored classics and documentaries.
The Narrow Path by Satish and Santosh Babusenan, about a strained father-son relationship, collected the second prize, the Silver Gateway, in the Indian competition section. Godless, Ralitza Petrova’s account of a Bulgarian nurse’s journey to redemption, picked up the Silver Gateway trophy in the International competition section.
The award for Lady of the Lake is in keeping with the 2016 edition’s major theme of the slippages between documentary and fiction filmmaking. Kumar’s debut feature follows his documentary Phum Shang on the same subject: the precarious lives of fisherfolk living on the Loktak Lake in Manipur.
Several films borrowed elements from the previously separate categories of documentary and fiction. The Indian documentaries Cinema Travellers, by Amit Madheshiya and Shirley Abraham, Remembering Kurdi, by Saumyananda Sahi, and An Insignificant Man, by Vinay Tewari and Khusbhoo Ranka, felt like movies in their scale, camerawork and use of characters to drive the narrative.
Cinema Travellers, about the dying tradition of tent cinemas in Maharashtra, got a consolation prize in the form of a Special Mention in the India Gold category, as did Rohit Mittal’s Man Bites Dog-inspired Autohead.
Pure fiction showed its endurance too for the international and Indian juries, headed respectively by Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes and Turkish director Reha Erdem. Special jury awards were given to Natalia Almada’s Everything Else, a study of Mexican bureaucracy, in the international competition, and Assamese director Aicheng Jai Dohutia’s The Hidden Corner in the Indian competition section.
Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality. The seriocomic drama chronicles the sexual awakening of four women in Bhopal, played by Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur.
Festival favourite Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman, in which actors take on the lead roles in the play of the same name by Arthur Miller, won the Audience Choice award.
The Half Ticket category for children’s cinema also got its share of gongs. The Golden Gateway Award (Feature) in this section went to Taiwanese director Laha Mebow’s Hang in There, Kids! The Silver Gateway Award (Feature) was given to the German movie At Eye Level by Evi Goldbrunner and Joachim Dollhopf.
Anil Bhargava’s Bhartiye Cinema Ka Itihas won the Excellence in Writing on Cinema Award (Hindi), while the Excellence in Writing on Cinema Award (English) was bagged by Jai Arjun Singh for The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee.
Mumbai Mahuwa, by Santosh Ganpat Kamble won the Golden Gateway award in the Dimensions Mumbai short film section. Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, by Tabu Kaariya, took the silver prize in the category.