Film festivals have emerged as a significant platform for the preservation and exhibition of heritage. One such, the Chalachitram National Film Festival, even has heritage as its motto and central theme. The 7th edition commenced with the ceremonial lighting of the sacred lamp by Piyush Roy, dean of film studies at RV University. Festival Director Utpal Datta expressed his elation at witnessing the festival’s profound influence in inspiring the new generation of filmmakers to delve into their rich cultural history and weave both fictional and factual narratives around it. For, “the soul of a civilization is its heritage,” emphasized Christopher Dalton, the artistic director.
Advisory board member Rahul Rawail shared invaluable insights from his days in the film industry, offering guidance and techniques to budding filmmakers. Following this enlightening session, he unveiled Prantik Deka’s book ‘Past Revisited,’ a literary exploration of the cinema of Assamese. Prior to the screening of films, the curtains rose to a dance video interpretation by Prerona Bhuyan of Vande Mataram. The non-competition panorama included the premiere screening of Prabahini, directed by the VP of the Chalachitram Society, Prabal Khaund.
A 3-member Chalachitram Grand Jury conferred the Best Film award upon Dhrubajit Baishya’s Kameez, which jury member Piyush Roy declared to be “a celebration of solitude that creates empathy in space and time lapse.” Biswajit Das won the Best Director award for March, while Gunjan Kashyap’s exceptional screenplay in Home Brews: Struggles for a Tradition was honored with the Best Screenplay award. Rajveer Pardeshi’s performance in Chirbhog was recognized with a Jury Special Mention for Best Child Actor. Sumedha Bhattacharyya’s mesmerizing visuals in Mau: The Spirit Dreams of Cheraw earned her the Best Cinematographer award, lauded by jury member Shiladitya Bora for its surreal imagery.
The Best Film from NE India Award was conferred upon Pranab Sarmah’s Mukha: the Mask. The film, says jury member Meghachandra Kongbam, “highlights the rich tradition of Mukha art in Assam which was introduced by the 15th century saint and cultural icon Shrimanta Shankardev in the performance of Bhaona, a form of dance drama depicting popular stories from Hindu Mythology and gives its uniqueness in the world of the Mask arts with captivating visuals. The film covers the craftsmanship of the artisans making the masks and individual efforts on the popularization of the art, even to attract the foreign tourists. This film will motivate the audience to ensure the flourishing of the rare beautiful art forms of the country.”
In addition to the Grand Jury Awards, House of Illusions, an indie film studio founded to encourage emerging filmmakers, set up an independent jury comprising sound designer Debajit Changmai and RV University professors Meera Baindur and Deepa Ganesh. Hira Das’ Kaankhowa, a text on ethics that lays bare the evils of collective oppression, won the House of Illusions Award for Best Short Fiction Film by a Woman Director. And Bobbeeta Sharma’s Jnanada: Reflections of Light and Shade, which reveals the early years of the cinema of Assamese in an autobiographical tone through the telling of the life story of its first actress, Jnanada Kakati, won the House of Illusions Award for Best Documentary by a Woman Director.
♣ Best Film — Kameez, Director-producer: Dhrubajit Baishya
♣ Best Film from NE India — Mukha: The Mask, Director-producer: Pranab Sarmah
♣ Best Director — Biswajit Das (March)
♣ Best Screenplay — Gunjan Kashyap, (Home Brews: Struggles for a Tradition)
♣ Best Cinematography — Sumedha Bhattacharyya, (Mau: The Spirit Dreams of Cheraw)
♣ Jury Special Mention for Best Child Actor, Rajveer Pardeshi (Chirbhog)
♣ House of Illusions Award for Best Short Fiction Film by a Woman Director
Kaankhowa — Director: Hira Das
Producers: Naren Das, Puspalata Roy, & Rachit Passi
♣ House of Illusions Award for Best Documentary by a Woman Director
Jnanada : Reflections of Light and Shade
Director-producer: Bobbeeta Sharma
Chalachitram was founded in 2017, primarily to explore the possibilities of cinema as a weapon to create awareness; and to exhibit the uniqueness and richness of our heritage, our pride.