New York: A documentary about hockey Olympian Grahnandan Singh, a film that explores a young woman’s complex relationship with her father, and a documentary about young girls who stand up against child marriage and learn football have won top honors at this year’s New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) which celebrated India’s cinematic traditions as the country enters its 75th year of independence.
Around 60 films, feature films and documentaries screened at the 2022 New York Indian Film Festival, considered the oldest and most prestigious festival in North America which ran from May 7-14 and featured the cinema of India and the Indian diaspora.
Presented virtually for the third consecutive year, the festival, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), presented 60 screenings including 18 feature films, six documentaries and 36 short films.
The festival closed on Saturday with the documentary “The Beatles and India: An Enduring Love Affair”, directed by Ajoy Bose and Peter Compton.
NYIFF 2022 winners included ‘Shoebox’, voted Best Picture while Aditya Vikram Sengupta won Best Director for ‘Once Upon a Time in Calcutta’, Best Screenplay award went to ‘Powai’, Jitendra Joshi won Best Actor for ‘Godavari’, and Sreelekha Mitra won Best Actress for ‘Once Upon a Time in Calcutta’.
The Best Child Actor award went to Reyaan Shah and Hirnaya Zinzuwadia for “Gandhi & Co.” Documentary ‘Taangh/Longing’ directed by Bani Singh, telling the story of his father, Olympian Grahanandan Singh who won two gold medals in hockey in 1948 and 1952, won Best Documentary (Feature Film) ), while the award for Best Short Film (Documentary) went to “Kicking Balls”.
The documentary, which is set in three small villages in Rajasthan, details the work of a non-profit organization that trains teenage girls, almost all child brides, in football.
The award for Best Short (Story) went to Succulent’. India’s Consul General in New York, Randhir Jaiswal presented the awards to the winners. IAAC President Dr. Nirmal Mattoo said at the closing night that the festival showcased India’s contribution to the world of art and literature. As India celebrates 75 years of independence this year, Mattoo said that India as a country has long literary and artistic traditions and there is an abundance of creative and scientific literature.
IAAC Executive Director Suman Gollamudi said this year that the festival showcases the diversity of Indian culture and showcases the country’s famous cinematic traditions.
NYIFF festival director Aseem Chhabra expressed hope that after being featured in virtual editions for the past three years due to the pandemic, the festival will return in an in-person avatar next year.
Our goal is to really underscore NYIFF’s commitment to diversity and cultural representation in filmmaking, he said. He said this year the festival featured films in 13 languages spoken in India: Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
Chhabra added that NYIFF’s mission is to provide filmmakers, actors and industry professionals with a platform to showcase their work, create a culture where filmmakers can exchange ideas with diverse audiences, journalists and aficionados.
The wrap-up party also featured Chhabra’s moderated conversation with Bose and producer Reynold D’Silva about their documentary about the iconic Beatles band’s time in India.
Through rare archival footage, photographs, eyewitness accounts and expert commentary as well as filming across India, the documentary brings to life the fascinating journey of George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr since their lives of high-octane celebrity in the West. in a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspires an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting.