In its 47th edition, International Film Festival of India (IFFI) withdrew its special section promoting movies from the ‘North-East’ India. Speaking to the media, Director of Directorate of Film Festival, C Senthil Rajan, claimed that the decision was based on previous years feedback ‘when movies from the region attracted lower footfall. However, he assured that movies were embedded with the rest of films in Indian Panorama.
However, Bobo Khuraijam, the director of Manipuri documentary film ‘Ima Sabitri’ that opened at Indian Panorama (Non-Feature Section), said that the support for North-Eastern filmmakers is insufficient. With the coming of digital technology, the Central and the state governments must offer production support to films in the region. “We are not saying that filmmakers in Mumbai and Delhi are not facing challenges in finding producers, but given the terrain and accessibility of the North-East, the challenges are at a different level. There are several aspiring filmmakers with so many stories to tell, but they lack monetary, technical and logistical support,” Bobo said, speaking to The Indian Express.
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For the last five years, he said neither the Film Division of India nor Doordarshan has invited outside producers to make films in the North-East. “I don’t know the reason but unfortunately they have stopped. The filmmakers in the region are starving for resources, infrastructure and struggle as they are at a nascent stage. As creative people, we feel bogged down at times when we don’t find producers. The funds need to come in regular channels through authorised agencies,” he said.
The independent filmmaker who documented ‘Ima Sabitri’ with a borrowed DSLR camera from his friend says with the emergence of digital technology, the cost of filmmaking has gone down and documentary and feature films from the North-East can be accommodated. “Earlier celluloid films were costlier, but digital films are coming with massive democratization of filmmaking. Therefore, the state must contribute in giving incentives or support to them,” Bobo says.
The 40-year old filmmaker whose next venture is on the role of unsung Manipuri girls in the Indian women’s football team also says that the government must protect the interest of genre of documentary films. Bobo Khuraijam said while he enjoys making documentary movies, he would like to work on fiction films as he feels it gives him a chance to explore his creativity. “Unlike European market, documentary films in India are not played at theaters, but the fact is they tell real stories, it involves great among of research for accuracy and requires a ecosystem of dedicated team. Unless the government intervenes, it is difficult to tap production team for documentary films who prefer to be absorbed by feature (fiction) films as its gives a existing lot of audience, and one of the only means for recognition to their work,” he says.