IMPHAL, December 19: In a clear indication of negligence and mismanagement by the organizers of the 8th Manipur Film Festival, a homage screening turned into humiliation for family members of a renowned director.
The second day of the festival was scheduled to screen “Sanakeithel”, a feature film directed by the late MA Singh at 10.30 am. As per schedule, the film was to be a homage screening in the memory of the director who had passed away recently. Family members including hiw widow Khuraileima, other family members and invitees arrived at the MFDC theatre at the scheduled time of screening. The gathering was eagerly waiting for the show to begin, when it was announced by Arts and Culture director K Sobita to the family members, that the compact disk of the film was found to be faulty. Despite tendering an apology, it was said that another compact disk of the film was procured but having the same condition.
The outraged family members along with other invitees left the compound in disgust. It may be mentioned that as per Film Festival norms, the films to be screened should be procured in advance by the concerned organizer and the defects along with the picture quality of the film analyzed beforehand. Sources maintained that the disk was procured this morning only and that too from an unlicensed vendor.
It may be mentioned that MA Singh’s film ‘Sanakeithel’ bagged the national award for Best Film in 1984 and is acclaimed to be one of the pioneering works of the late director in Manipuri cinema. The film captures Manipur in the early 80s and the prevalent social aspects of the time bordering on neo-realism or parallel cinema. Interestingly, the film also can be viewed as a documentation of the Ima Keithel, the Polo Ground at the time and encapsulates the lifestyle of Manipuris in the 80s era.
The first Manipuri to be formally trained at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), MA Singh used new faces in his film and not the popular actors of the time. The cast portrays a tribal, a Muslim and a Meitei as con artists living under the same rented room and hints at the integration of the ethnic communities of the state.
The 8th State Film Festival began yesterday with the Chief Minister paying homage to departed artists and filmmakers at MFDC theatre, MA Singh’s portrait was among them.
Meanwhile, complaints still pour in from film enthusiasts that the festival is held as almost in a covert manner. The attendance of public is a mere trickle as compared to the last festival in 2010. “The festival is not properly advertised in the local media, we have no idea of the screening schedule, the MFDC complex looks dull and even commuters at Palace Compound have no idea that a festival is going on,” Sunjoy, a film enthusiast told IFP reporter.
There is no formal display of posters for the films which are to be screened aside from a few wall posters pasted inside the complex. The posters are also said to be put up by the interested directors of producers of the films and not by the MFDC authorities. Opinions gathered from cine-enthusiasts mention that the festival is lackluster and devoid of quality feature films. It may be mentioned here that many national award winners failed to make the shortlist inclusive of “Phijigi Mani”, “Leipaklei” and also of other films in the non-commercial category.
Meanwhile, there has also been no clarification from the MFDC that a jury member is a close relative of one of the filmmakers whose documentary was selected in the non-feature category.