The 71-minute film, directed and produced by Paban, will premiere at the 21st Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. This is the first time a feature film from the state to get a world premiere.
An alumnus of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and a recipient of numerous national and international film awards, Paban said it took him a year to film Loktak Lairembi. The film portrays the hardships faced by the fishing community of Loktak, the biggest freshwater lake in the northeast, after their ‘phumshangs’ (huts built on floating biomass in the lake) were destroyed by the government in the name of cleaning the water body. “Loktak is a unique ecosystem,” Paban said, adding that authorities had burnt down hundreds of these huts in 2011, leaving thousands of fishermen homeless.
The film follows the sufferings of Tomba and his family. Tomba is haunted by fears of displacement by the authorities. One morning, Tomba accidentally finds a gun. The implications of this discovery and its impact on Tomba and his family are depicted in the film. “Today when I look at Manipur, I see guns all around. Whoever has a gun is the ruler here … be it insurgents or state authorities,” Paban said.
Decades of insurgency and socio-political uncertainty have thrown the society into disarray. People have been forced to withdraw into a cocooned existence, devoid of any space for free self-expression, Paban added.
“My birthplace, Manipur, has always been a troubled area since the Independence of India,” Paban said. “Our only hope and possible saviour is our cultural spirit,” Paban added.
In the 10-day festival, beginning October 10, the film will compete with 10 other Asian films for the Busan International Film Festival New Currents Award with a prize of $30,000 on offer, Paban said.
Paban has showcased his films at international film festivals in Germany, various cities in India, France, Greece, Pakistan, Poland, Egypt and Canada.
“Few filmmakers get a chance to premiere their films in the festival … Paban will be able to promote his film on a global platform at this prestigious festival,” director of the newly set up Manipur State Film and Television Institute said.
Lauding Paban for bringing out a string of internationally acclaimed films, director of Manipur information and public relations and film critic Meghachandra Kongjam said Manipur is leading in the production of quality films among northeastern states.
News Source: Times of India