The Habitat Film Festival is a treat that must not be missed – especially since there are interactions with directors after the screening
“I picked up this topic because I wanted to bring some human rights theme to the mainstream — so that people in the rest of the country can appreciate why things in Kashmir happen the way they do. Not to say that it is right or wrong, but to say that this is happening there and one should know about it,” says filmmaker Ashvin Kumar when asked about his much-talked about latest venture No Fathers in Kashmir. The film, which released on April 5, is the inaugural film at the Habitat Film Festival this year. Many such acclaimed films from all across India will be screened in the 14th edition of this spectacular platform for Indian cinema.
The festival this year is a 10-day cinematic journey from 17th to 26nd May at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. Aiming for an approximation of the best of Indian cinema year after year, this edition brings a pan-Indian selection from the current year and the year gone by with insightful post-screening interactions with directors.
Widely anticipated for its rich yearly offerings which include first cuts, Indian Festival Premieres and World Premieres, Debuts and Master Classes, the festival is nothing short of a cinematic treat for movie enthusiasts. It showcases in its feature films section 42 films in more than 19 languages including Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi, Kashmiri, English, Telugu, Haryanvi, Punjabi, Assamese, Kannada, Khasi, Gaddi, Ravula, Garo, Sherdukpen, Ladakhi, Kumaoni and Santhali. An additional 45 critically acclaimed films will be screened under the Documentaries, Shorts and Student Film segments.
Films including Vaada Chennai, Kumbalangi Nights, Nagarkirtan, The Mosquito Philosophy, Mehsampur, Noblemen, Tarikh, The Gold Laden Sheep and the Sacred Mountain, Jonaki, Lorni – The Flaneur, Baaram, Abhyakto, Death of an Insane and many more will also feature post screening conversations with their respective directors. Famed Bengali actress Rituparna Sengupta from Ahaa Re and Malayalam actress Rima Kallingal from Aabhasam are also attending the festival.
Master Classes by filmmakers and relevant panel discussions interspersed with the screenings are expected to drive in film lovers from the city in large numbers, making it enlightening and entertaining in equal measure. The screening of Malayalam feature Aabhasam will be followed by a panel on the #MeToo Movement and the formation of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) in the Malayalam film industry featuring actress Rima Kallingal, director Jubith Namradath, moderated by film critic Anna M. M. Vetticad. A dedicated festival lounge offers collateral openings such as in-depth interactions between filmmakers and film scholars.
The festival has grown to accommodate a rich fare of short films and student films in addition to the documentaries. A special package of documentaries on Dadasaheb Phalke Awardees directed by Savita Oberoi will also be screened. A highlight of PSBT films in the documentary segment is Prantik Basu’s Rang Mahal selected in the International Competition Berlinale Shorts section at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival.
HFF will also see the screening of several outstanding student films including The Firefox Guardian, Glowworm in a Jungle, Khela, What is the Colour of the Colourless Sky and many more. The films under the new Student’s Cinema Segment will witness the participation of the young and upcoming filmmakers from the Film and Television Institute Pune, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute Kolkata, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre Jamia Millia Islamia, Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC) etc.
Talking about the festival, Programmes Director at India Habitat Centre Vidyun Singh says, “Habitat Film Festival is known for its diverse choice of films. For the last 14 years, it has been providing the best of all worlds and has been showcasing films that have deeply engaged with its social and local contexts, displaying fine sensibilities and sensitivities. This is a selection that affirms our heterogeneous character. Film has always been a strong medium for the community to come together and we are thrilled to present the best of Indian cinema once again.”
Dating back to its inauguration in the year 2005, Habitat Film Festival has experienced substantial growth over the years and has been at the forefront in drawing public attention to cinematic gems from across the country away from the glitz and glamour of Bollywood. The festival closes with Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle — where National Award winning actor Manoj Bajpayee plays the protagonist.
(All films at the festival are English subtitled. The entry to the screenings is free but requires prior registration)
A must watch
Patriot picks some of the films to look out for in this festival. Here’s the list:
No Fathers in Kashmir
Noor, a teenage British Kashmiri, arrives in Kashmir on a quest to retrace her roots and find her long-lost father. She`s aided in this search by a local boy named Majid, who is smitten by her. (Language: English) (Director: Ashvin Kumar)
Bulbul can sing
In the atmospheric light of dusk and dawn, Rima Das portrays the lives of three friends on the threshold of adulthood. Poetic sensuality contrasts with authentic scenes of everyday life in their Indian village, where care-free youthfulness comes face to face with merciless reality. (Language: Assamese) (Director: Rima Das)
In a Land Faraway
The movie speaks about the uplifting impact of a veteran teacher, Radha, in a village through her ardent efforts to rescue an ancient tribal school threatened with closure by local authorities and, of how she influences the life of the students and villagers thus exalting the community into the benefits of education. (Language: Malayalam) (Director: Joshy Mathew)
Sprightly Chuskit’s dream of going to school is cut short when she is rendered a paraplegic after an accident. She’s confined to life indoors in the company of her strict grandfather, Dorje. (Language: Ladakhi) (Director: Priya Ramasubban)
Anbu is a carrom board player trying to win the nationals, get a government job and settle down with the love of his life, Padma. But he is inadvertently caught in the cross-fire. (Language: Tamil) (Director: Vetri Maaran)
While Jonaki, an 80-year–old woman, searches for love in a strange world of decaying memories, her lover, now old and grey, returns to a world she is leaving behind. (Language: Bengali) (Director: Aditya Vikram Sengupta)
Bhonsle, an ageing Marathi sub-inspector, has just been retired against his will. Heartbroken at having lost the life of duty he had known for over 40 years, he stands up to s challenge — finding one last battle worth fighting for. (Language: Hindi) (Director: Devashish Makhija)
Parimal is born a boy, but there has always been another identity hidden within Parimal’s male physical appearance. In his quest, he reaches a new city, Kolkata where he is welcomed by a transgender shelter. And Parimal soon becomes Puti. (Language: Bengali) (Director: Kaushik Ganguly)
Eight-year-old Hamid learns that 786 is God’s number and decides to try and reach out to God, by dialing this number. He wants to talk to his father, who his mother tells him has gone to Allah. One ﬁne day the phone call is answered, and two lives shattered in the strife of Kashmir ﬁnd a way to be complete again. (Language: Hindi) (Director: Aijaz Khan)