The 7th Manipuri Film Festival is underway. The event by no definition can be described as a crowd puller, with even the media shying away for most of the days so far, except on the opening day, when VIPs were present for the routine ceremony. This is rather disappointing, for indeed those who have been witnessed to daily screenings of the films entered in the competition, in the main hall, even as the same films were being assessed in a separate private screening room by the festival jury, will vouch there is a profusion of young talents in the field, not only film makers and but artistes. The fledgling industry may have just learned to walk on its own feet, but if it continues to generate the kind of talent and passion, let there be no doubt that in the days ahead, Manipuri film is headed to carve itself a similar niche for itself as Manipur theatre. That would indeed be a proud moment for everybody. But for this to happen, there are a number of lines of causality to intersect. First and foremost the fountainhead of talent must sustain. Of this we have no doubt. Manipur already has a long tradition of performing arts, including its indigenous theatre �Shumang Lila�, for the newly arrived film industry to draw succour and vocabulary from. Manipuri cinema did directly inherit elements of the �Shumang Lila� and the proscenium theatre, and understandably as the medium developed, this had at a point become an excess baggage needing to be shed before it was liberated and found its own idioms and language to communicate in the characteristic and versatile way that only the film medium can. This excess baggage was evident in the over dependence on words and exaggerated gestures, rather than images in all its infinite cinematic nuances, to tell stories: stories not just of the visible and temporal, but also of the invisible soul of the society. What is also equally important for any art to flourish is a critical atmosphere. Criticism and creativity are foils, and seldom can one prosper without the other. Men of letters like Samuel Taylor Coleridge even went to the extent to say that creativity not only would not prosper, but would not be possible in the absence of such a critical atmosphere. What is also important is for this atmosphere to be constructed by informed critics indulging in informed debates on the subject. Otherwise this atmosphere can also easily become plebeian, capable of nurturing only art of its own standard. This is perhaps where the state has seen a shortfall. The moribund media interest in the current festival is proof. In this sense, events such as the ongoing film festival are a good beginning. As the festival grows, we hope its future editions would also have films of known cinematic credential from outside, both from other parts of India as well as abroad, along with the film makers, not necessarily in the competition section, but definitely for screening and discussions. Introduction of new ideas, techniques, technology and paradigms etc, always have added fresh air to any field of art. As a young industry, it would have plenty of drawbacks, but an equal measure of advantages as well. In terms of technology for instance, as relatively new entrants, it can straight away jump into the digital age. There were some resistance to this, but as is inevitable, it has now come to be acknowledged by force of circumstance that nobody can argue with the future and hope to win. At this moment, digital image making is the future, and although there are still some weak areas, let there be no doubt, they would be taken care of sooner than later. As a young industry, another major hurdle before it would obviously be fund paucity. This would tend to pull the industry towards catering to popular taste alone, promising it more money from the market but putting it at risk of surrendering its artistic edge. While the market is important, inability to strike a balance between commerce and art would be disastrous, for then the hope of Manipuri films carving out a niche for itself would deplete. The government can do a lot to prevent this from happening. It has declared film making an industry therefore it can do its bit to bail it out of its difficult time through tax exemption and other incentives. It can start by waiving entertainment tax levied on theatres showing these films provided the exempted tax is fairly shared between the film makers and cinema hall owners. In this regard, every well wisher of the Manipuri film enterprise would thank the Governor of Manipur, Gurbachan Jagat, for his generous offer of instituting a Governor award for the best Manipuri film each year. The symbol should go a long way in lifting the spirit of the tottering but potential-packed industry.