Film southasia

"Festival of southasian documentries"
Winner of 2019
Film Selection Type Awards
Directed by: SHAHEEN-DILL-RIAZ, 96' Bangladesh Germany 


Ram Bahadur Trophy For Best Film

Directed by: AMIT MAHANTI, 66' India 


Runner Up

Directed by: SIMONE MESTRONI, 61' India Italy 


Tareque Masud Award For Debut Film

Directed by: ABOOZAR AMINI, 88' Afghanistan 



Directed by: ESHWARYA GROVER, 13' India 



Directed by: HEMANT KUMAR GABA, 72' India 


Special Mention

Directed by: SUPRIYO SEN, 76' India 


Special Mention

Jury Statement

Kunda Dixit

Thank you very much.

On behalf of the other two members of the Jury, Ayisha Abraham and Sumathy Sivamohan, let me say what an honour it has been for us to serve on this panel.

Possibly the only thing harder than making a documentary is to select the few best ones when all of the 62 films screened here past few days were of such high calibre.

The documentary genre evolved as a way to use the powerful tool of audiovisual film to explore, explain and expose facets of modern society that are largely missed out by fictional cinema, or mainstream journalism.

In the post-truth, alternative-fact age that we live in, the documentary film dares to dig deep to bring out realities that are either ignored or glossed over.

Documentary film-makers are driven by the need to shine the light at the dark, hidden corners of our societies so that we can see, hear and act on the concerns of people and places in the periphery.

All the documentary films that we have carefully watched over the past months for this festival do exactly that. They force us to listen to the feeble, and see those in the shadows.

At a time when democracy, freedom of expression, pluralism, inclusiveness and non-violence, are all under threat from elected demagogues in the region and beyond, the work of these courageous documentary makers is more important than ever. That is why the mind must remain free.

Over the past three days, we in the jury have agonised over the short list, and the short-short list, and then the short-short-short list, watching many of the films several times. We have looked at their persuasive power, technical quality, messaging and relevance. We wish there were prizes for all of them.

Alas. It is a cruel world, and there is a selection process. We have been asked to choose the best films in several categories: Best Student Film, Best Debut Film, Best Film on Children, and the Runnerup and Best Overall Film.

In addition, the Jury has also selected three documentaries for Special Mention for their outstanding qualities.

FIRST SPECIAL MENTION is a film that portrays the corporatisation of education which traps adolescents in a race to chase an impossible dream. The Jury’s Selection for the first Special Mention is to AN ENGINEERED DREAM by HEMANT KUMAR GABA.

The SECOND SPECIAL MENTION is the film portrait of a man and his life-long struggle against poverty and disability. Brilliantly shot, the stunning visuals allow us to see into a man who cannot see. The Jury’s next Selection for Special Mention is for SWIMMING THROUGH THE DARKNESS by SUPRIYO SEN.

The nextSPECIAL MENTION tonight is a story lyrically told of disenfranchised animals and humans who together try to survive at the edge of a busy and uncaring city. The characters struggle to be compassionate and helps canines that the rest of the city does not even notice. The Jury members are proud to give special mention to PARIAH DOG by JESSIE ALK.

The student films are all so outstanding that the Jury has a tie for THE BEST FILM IN THE STUDENT CATEGORY. The first documentary is how two survivors of a pogrom visit what was once their home. We get closeups of scarred and charred buildings that speak of horrifying violence and bring back memories of tragedy and crime. This unflinching film tells a powerful political story with confident minimalism. Ladies and gentlemen, MEMOIRS OF SAIRA AND SALIM by ESHWARYA GROVER.

The other BEST FILM IN THE STUDENT CATEGORY is almost a single shot of the how a vital everyday need is fulfilled with simplicity and sustainability. In a consumerist, throwaway age, this is a small-is-beautiful tale of how not to waste in the process of accessing a resource so important for everyday life. The film is THE WINTER TAP by AASHISH LIMBU AND DEBIN RAI.

The two Best Films in the Student Category will share the $500 prize money.

The TAREQUE MASUD DEBUT FILM AWARD 2019 with a cash prize of $1,000 goes to a film that takes an immersive look at the core of a seemingly intractable crisis that dates back 60 years ago to Partition. Viewers gain proximity and intimacy to the characters and what they have lived through. The film forces us to contemplate what the same characters must be going through as we speak. The Best Debut Film is AFTER PRAYERS by SIMONE MESTRONI.

Now, we come to a film that transports us to a city devastated by past wars, and seen through the eyes of two boys who have to take care of the family in the absence of their Dad amidst a backdrop of violence that can strike anyone at any time. The children are forced to grow up long before they are ready, but are still children at heart. Ladies and Gentlemen, the UNICEF NEPAL AWARD for BEST DOCUMENTARY ON CHILDREN’S ISSUES with a $1,000 prize goes to KABUL CITY IN THE WIND by ABOOZAR AMINI.

Now, the final two prizes. First, THE RUNNER UP AWARD for a documentary that blends images of the past and present to give us a glimpse of the violent history of a forgotten corner of South Asia. This film pushes the boundaries of documentary film-making in which a contemporary artist uses the camera as a tool for listening and memorialising the trauma suffered by her people. The film is from Nagaland, and it is SCRATCHES ON STONE by AMIT MAHANTI.

Finally, the moment you have all been waiting for so patiently The Ram Bahadur Trophy for BEST DOCOUMENTARY in Film Southasia 2019 with a cash prize of $2,000. The jury agreed that it should go to a film that brings to life culture and politics, ecology and economy, nature and livelihoods, marriage and family, loss and hope.

This multiple layered ethnographic study uses technically outstanding cinematography with empathy and respect for the protagonists, a largely invisible floating population that shuttles between the forest and the urban jungle. Ladies and gentlemen, the RAM BAHADUR TROPHY for BEST DOCUMENTARY 2019 goes to BAMBOO STORIES by SHAHEEN DILLRIAZ.

Congratulations to all of you.

On behalf of Ayisha and Sumathy, thank you once again for your appreciating over the past three days the great work of all the documentaries of Film South Asia 2019.