The Stranger and the Wind is an Iranian short film about a hearse driver’s transportation of a corpse from a hospital to a university. In the middle of the trip, the driver stops at a coffee house and the owner suggests he replace the corpse with that of his father.
The film was one of many screened at the two-day Fergusson Short Film Festival on Sunday. A space where like-minded people can enjoy parallel cinema, the festival, organised by the Department of Media and Communication, showcased 25 films with an average duration of below 30 minutes. An overwhelming 2,319 entries from more than 110 countries had been received by the festival.
The opening film was C.R.D. directed by Kranti Kanade, while the closing film was Nooreh by Ashish Pandey, about a young girl in Kashmir who stays awake to stop firing at the border.
The Stranger and the Wind, directed by Mahmoud Nazaralia, bagged the best direction, Firelily by Emily Vanderveer, about a Chinese woman who finds herself in Brussels, won the best screenplay and Tribe, which talks about women entrepreneurs, racism and homophobia, by Sergi Merchan, got the best editing award. Tangle by Malihagholanzadeh received the best animated film award while Manicure by Asman Fayyaz got the best fiction film. The special jury award was presented to Revival, directed Mahmmud Hasan, a story around life and demise.
The festival also had interactive sessions with renowned directors Sameer Vidhvans and Umesh Kulkarni. Among the screened films were two home productions — Darval by Rishikesh Khambayat talks about societal problems faced by a man who came to the city, and Kosh by Sameer Vanjari, is about a girl who experiences menstruation for the first time and the stigma attached to it.
“The college is very well known for its courses and scope for higher education. But when it comes to culture, we are only limited to the department festivals. The concept of film clubs was started in 1967 in this college by renowned director Samar Nakhate, but did not get much attention. We wanted to create a space where people could seek content and parallel cinema to have their own personal perspective,” said Atharva Karvekar, a third-year student, Media and Communication Department. He, along with Hussaina Harnesswala, organised the first edition of the festival on December 27, 2018. “It was a big leap from the department festivals, which had competitions and other engagements. We had our own set of obstacles like finding sponsors, so the festival is on a shoestring budget. With the support of faculty and college administration, we held the very first edition of the film festival and received 80 entries. This year, the festival has gone global,” he said.
Pritish Vasaikar, a second-year student from the same department, said, “Our aim was to remove the stereotype associated with media and film students. We are not taken seriously and this is why we wanted to go big. We started to plan the festival in September. We listed our film festival on an international website and then the entries came pouring from all across the globe. The shortlisting of the films was done with help from Swapnil Kapure, R Nithin, Kunal Navin and Manendra Bhardwaj, who are from the Film and Television Institute of India, as well as our faculty.”
The festival was organised at the N M Wadia Amphitheatre on the college campus with a team of 75 students and faculty. The team could be recognised by the bright yellow T-shirt, which according to them symbolises stability and represents the rising sun.
“We had booked the venue four months before. We also made sure that the dates of the festival do not clash with other department festivals and so far, the footfall has been high. People have enjoyed watching the different sets of films,” said Ashiya Nair, a second-year student.