16th Habitat Film Festival to play host to 30 directors, 27 languages over 10 days

New Delhi: The 16th edition of the Habitat Film Festival, which opened in the national capital on Friday, will offer film enthusiasts what its organisers described as a “360-degree experience”.

The ten-day festival at the India Habitat Centre will see the screening of films as varied as the Manoj Bajpayi-starrer ‘Joram’, which is now an international festival circuit favourite, to undiscovered gems in the Bodo, Tulu and Maithili languages, and from Manipur, which is yet to recover from the aftermath of the ethnic riots that wracked the state last year.

Varun Grover’s ‘All India Rank’ and Vetrimaaran’s Tamil film ‘Viduthalai Part 1’ are two of the other much-anticipated films on the Festival roster.

Festival spokesperson Vidyun Singh said the event will feature a curated selection of feature films, documentaries and short films. As many as 27 languages will be represented at the event.

Speaking about the Festival’s heritage, Singh said, “The standout feature of the festival is that it is the only one of its kind in the country that is dedicated solely to pan-Indian cinema. When we began this in 2006, there were really no platforms for regional cinemas, and independent cinema, and people mostly got to see mainstream cinema.”

A familiar presence in the city’s cultural circuit, Singh said the festival was launched “to be able to provide a platform for independent and regional cinema”.

Singh said, “Over time regional cinema has found its place, not just in India but in the world. It is a very special kind of cinema because independent filmmakers address non-formulaic topics and issues.”

She added: “And so there is a much deeper understanding now of issues that may not be mainstream issues, but nonetheless, they affect us and resonate with people.”

A very important aspect of the festival, Singh pointed out, is that “we have a special segment dedicated to documentary cinema, because documentaries and short films are gaining a very large and loyal audience.”

The Festival will additionally feature a book launch and a workshop dedicated to writing and production workshops. So, for aspiring filmmakers, there is more to do than “just coming to see the movies”, Singh said.

Singh pointed to the ‘Kumar Shahani Retrospective’, which she said would be a “wonderful opportunity” to be able to get an insight into the work of the avant garde filmmaker from those who worked and collaborated with him, and knew him and his oeuvre intimately.

For the unversed, Shahani is best known for arthouse films such as ‘Maya Darpan’, ‘Tarang’, ‘Khayal Gatha’ and ‘Kasba’. At the Festival, his ‘Char Adhyay’ (based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel), ‘Kasba’ (inspired by the short story ‘In the Ravine’ by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov) and ‘Maya Darpan’ will be screened.

Also listed on the programme is an exhibition of iconic Hindi film posters and publicity material from the 1970s. It is supported by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI). Also listed is the launch of the anthology, ‘The Swinging Seventies: Stars, Style and Substance in Hindi Cinema’, jointly edited by Nirupama Kotru and Shantanu Ray Chaudhary.

Singh concluded by noting that more than 30 directors will attend the festival. Each film screening will offer an opportunity to interact with the director, she said. “The festival is more than just a series of screenings,” Singh said.

Also Read: See Pics: Yet Again, Actress Janhvi Kapoor Flaunts Her ‘Shiku’ Necklace At Event

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