October 20, 2006 1:41:51 am
Two Indian entries bagged the prestigious Red Panda (better known as the Green Oscar) at the 25th Wildscreen Film Festival here. Ajay and Vijay Bedi won in the developing countries category for their Cherub in the Mist (Bedi Films), a film on the endangered red panda while CNN-IBN’s special investigation report Last Dance of the Sarus, won in the news category.
The Golden Panda for the overall best film went to David Attenborough’s In the Undergrowth, BBC’s revelatory series on invertebrates.
For the Bedis, it was the third Panda in the family. Father Naresh Bedi won the first one for cinematography for BBC film Ganges Ghariyal. Tonight, handing out the Panda to the next generation of Bedis, host Alan Titchmarsh said: “Last fest (2004), we gave the boys a Panda in the best newcomer section and tonight they have proved our faith was not misplaced”. In 2004, it was a short film, The Policing Langur, and this time it was a painstaking two-year effort to explore the elusive red panda at the Singalila National Park.
Cherub of the Mist follows two zoo-bred pandas as they are released into the wild and documents their courtship, mating, nest-making and rearing of the newborn. “I feel so proud as an Indian,” said Ajay Bedi. “We have this great tradition of wildlife filming without much of technological support or budget that the western filmmakers enjoy. It’s a great honour and it prepares us for the tough journey ahead.” The film had also bagged the best conservation film award at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana, US, in May.
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Last Dance of the Sarus, a 2.5-minute report by CNN-IBN’s Bahar Dutt documents how the wetlands of Uttar Pradesh, home to nearly one-thirds of the world’s Sarus population, are being drained to make way for development.
Of the 412 entries from 45 countries, 77 made it to the finals in 21 categories. India was represented by 18 films at the biennial festival, five of which were selected for the finals. This year, Wildscreen, a UK-based educational charity working to promote the conservation of nature through “wildlife imagery”, celebrates 100 years of wildlife filmmaking.
Wildscreen, which has been holding festivals since 1982, will make a debut in New Delhi in January 2007 to showcase some of the best films at the awards this year.
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