What is Cinema? The answer to this question is no easy matter. Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements. But cinema is, in the final analysis, cinema.” – Akira Kurosawa
New Jersey Indian & International Film Festival’s (NJIIFF) held last week aims to reach out to all American, Indian & South Asian Community through Films & Related Art forms. The festival gives local & International Film Makers & Talents a platform to showcase their talent & films international.
According to festival director Hemant Pandya, “the festival aims to connect filmmakers with the distributors and potential investors, and also to create market for regional Indian and international films.”
A film which highlights the plight of the women in Kashmir whose husbands went missing during the militancy in the valley and another film that addresses gender inequality among prostitutes won top honors at the first edition of the New Jersey Indian International Film Festival.
Danish Renzu’s “Half Widow” won the best film and the best director award, while Sweta and Aditya Kriplani’s “Tikli and Laxmi Bomb,” won the best actress award for Chitrangdha Chakraborty and the best film in the best Festival Director’s Award category. Five documentaries, eight feature films and 22 short films from the U.S. India, France, Canada and Italy were screened at the festival held June 8 to 10 at the Regal Hadley Cinemas in South Plainfield, New Jersey.
“Half Widow” writer Sunayana Kuchroo received the award on behalf of the film’s producer. “We are honored that our film was chosen as the opening film of the festival,” she said. There are plans in progress to release the film in India, she told the audience.
The festival closed with “Bucket List,” which marked Madhuri Dixit Nene’s debut into Marathi films. Director Tejas Deoskar, who was present at the screening, was overwhelmed by the response the film got at the festival. “Marathi films are scaling new heights and making waves across the globe,” he said, adding that local festivals like the NJIFF are also supporting good content that is being made.”
At the June 10 closing ceremony, filmmaker Prakash Jha won the best actor award for his performance in Justaju and Sayani Gupta’ short film “You,” while Desalos Isabella’s “The Snag,” an entry from France was awarded the best short film. Along with best actress Chakraborty, Vishwa received the best actor award for his performance in “Saalai.” The best documentary award went to “Mariam,” the only entry from Iraq produced by Military Media Team and Mohammad Jaffar and Chintan Sharda won the best director award for his short film “Shunyata.” In the Festival Director’s Award category, Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissian’s documentary “With This Ring” on the women boxers of India won the best documentary, while Italy’s short film “Weird” by Fausto Montanari was awarded the best short film.
Top, a representative of the film “Laxmi & Tikli Bomb” receives the Festival Director’s Choice for Best Film from “Bucket List” director Tejas Deoskar, right, and festival director Hemant Pandya, on the concluding day of the New Jersey Indian International Film Festival, June 10, at the Regal Hadley Cinema in South Plainfield, N.J.