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First Guwahati Intrnational Film Festival

Rukmini Barua Deka

Jyoti Chitraban Film and Television Institute, Guwahati is the first film studio in northeast India. It is named after Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, the first Assamese film producer. After his death, noted Assamese singer noted Assamese singer Dr. Bhupen Hazarika demanded Government of Assam to establish a film studio in Guwahati. This demand was supported by Bishnu Prasad Rabha, the noted singer, dancer, writer and social reformer of Assam. So, the government of Assam established the Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio in 1961, hereby,beginning a new era in Assamese film industry. Covering a huge area of 73 bigha of land, the studio is equipped with ultra modern floors, trolley-volley-cum-cranes, 16mm movie camera, lights and more.Till now more than 200 films have been released from Jyoti Chitraban.This is the only Film and Television Institute in entire northeast India.

“The first Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) will serve as a platform for screening movies of national and international fame and to send their messages to far flung areas to conquer the world. The government will try to make this festival an annual event, being committed to the growth of the film industry in Assam. We have decided to give a subsidyof Rs. 50 lakh for reopening closed cinema halls and Rs. 25 lakh for renovation of the existing or functional cinema halls. This film festival develop the Act East Policy, serving the purpose of the Gateway to the South East Asian nations.This would also promote cultural and business exchanges among the participating nations”,said Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister,Assam inaugurating it on October 28 at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, Guwahati.

Speaking on the occasion he said that a State School of Drama will be established for preserving theatrical traditions of the state. The government will also preserve the Chitraban Film Studio at Bholaguri Tea Estate, Tezpur set up by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala as a mark of respect to the legendary filmmaker, he said. The new tourism policy of the state will provide opportunities to filmmakers outside Assam to come here for shooting films. Financial grants will be providedto those making films on Assam’s culture, tourism and heritage, he added.

The six-day GIFF was organised by Jyoti Chitaban Film Studio Society in association with the Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Fegional Governm,ent Film and Television Institute with support of the state government, Assam. The inaugural function was attended by a host of dignitaries including Iranian Ambassador to India Ghulamreza Ansari, Czech Republic Ambassador to India Milan Hovorka and film personalities Jahnu Barua and Shaji N. Karun.

GIFF opened with Oscar winning Iranian movie ‘The Salesman’. It is about a man who tries his best to identify the attacker of his wife who suffers the trauma. Around 78 movies from 32 countries were screened during the six-day festival. They were screened at two venues- the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra (three screens) and Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio (one screen). The festival had sections like World Cinema, Country in Focus, Indian Panorama, Retrospectives, Cinema of Northeast, Cinema of Assam, a Tribute section among others. Srinivasa Santhanam was the Curator of the festival. The country in Focus was Turkey. The Competition Section was only for the Assamese films. Noted Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage was the head of the three-member jury which also comprised B. Lenin and Sanjib Sabhapandit to select the best films from Assam.

The festival concluded on November 2 . The Sankar Barua directed movie ‘Khandobdaah’ (Grief on a Sunday morning) was adjusted the best feature film. He dedicated the award to noted Assamese film actor Biju Phukan. ‘Antardrishti’ (man with the binocular) by Rima Das was awarded the second bestAssamese film and ‘Haanduk’ ( The hidden corner) of Jaicheng Jai Dohutia received the Special Jury Award.

“Assam is now one of the best film festival venues in the country, having successfully organised the first GIFF. All this is due to the complete dedication, coordination, well executed planning and efficient management of all concerned. All sections of the festival such as Indian, International, Regional , Retrospective and Master Classes were well taken care of. The time is now ripe to think of a permanent film festival complex in the state for filmmakers and movie lovers to enjoy and participate at the festival at one venue”,said Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Adoor Gopalakrishnan, delivering his speech as the Chief Guest during the closing ceremony of the 6-day long GIFF at Sankardev Kalakshetra.

The first GIFF received overwhelming response from the delegates as well as from the cine enthusiasts. Naba Kumar Doley, Minister, Cultural Affairs, Assam said that this festival would provide a permanent platform in the long run for screening movies of varied generations, to give exposure to new filmmakers and opportunities to veterans to exchange their views and enhance experiences.

“The tremendous success of the first GIFF will pave the way to inspire the young filmmakers of this region to make meaningful movies in the long run. The poetic beauty of some of the Assamese films are second to no Indian and International movies. It was interesting to watch some Assamese films having independent and confident woman characters which is indeed a reflection of a progressive society”, said Sri Lankan Film Director and Chairman of the Jury (competition section), Prasanna Vithanage

At the first GIFF,A.K.Bir, the cinematographer of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi was also present who shared some of his experiences.

Pabitra Margherita, Chairman of Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio gave the vote of thanks to all stakeholders for making the festival a grand success. Monita Borgohain, the Director of the festival expressed gratitude to all concerned on the successful completion of the festival.

Movie lovers from far and wide thronged the venues, watching the films on all the six days of the festival. The organisers of the glamorous festival witnessed overwhelming response from the people. The government of Assam hopes to make this festival an annual event.

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