Many prominent film festivals across the world as well as in India are taking the digital route amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Lockdown Film Festival held recently was not only a one-of-its kind digital short film festival, but also gave aspiring filmmakers a chance to document stories of common people dealing with the pandemic, and their perspective on the ongoing situation.

Veteran filmmaker Aparna Sen,chairperson of the jury of the National Film Development Corporation of India’ (NFDC) Lockdown Film Festival, organized by Carrot Films, says, “I was extremely delighted at the innovativeness of the films submitted. It was a test of creativity for the filmmakers to be able to do this within the confines of their homes and really, I had a hard time judging the entries.”  

TCA Kalayani, Joint Secretary Films ( Ministry of I & B) & Managing Director NFDC India said that since there is so much untapped talent in India alone, it was important to give these films a platform to recognize their value in such trying times.

“These films reaffirmed that ‘creativity cannot be locked down’ no matter what. These are times for innovative opportunities and we have to look for ways to grow the industry and become more efficient. Every filmmaker wants their films to be seen. While there are free websites and Social media windows available to everyone but to build an audience around the film sometimes is more difficult than making the film itself,” she says.

The jury members included veteran actors Sharmila Tagore and Ratna Pathak Shah, along with ad guru Prahlad Kakar, director Ken Ghosh, actor Adil Hussain, TV stars Gautam Rode and Hiten Tejwani, TV producer Nivedita Basu, cinematographer Modhura Palit, Ida Ali and theatre personality Iqbal Niyazi.

 “It is only because of the lockdown that I got the time to watch all the films back-to-back. They were very interesting and it was encouraging to see such good work. Yes, physical film festivals have a different kind of charm but this is something that we have to do for now,” Ghosh says.

Ali adds, “It was a lovely collection of short films. I am so stunned by all of them and how they managed to convey their unique stories so brilliantly in this difficult time.”

Also, appreciating the film festival and its uniqueness was Basu, calls it an “exhilarating experience to witness such good content in testing times.” Tejwani adds, “I loved all the films and they set the bar so high.”

FIVE TOP FILMMAKERS

Kanad Mukherjee – Anjali

It feels great to be a part of this Lockdown Film Festival organised by Carrot Films. I always wanted to make a film with my maa and I am a bit emotional with my century old house where I shot it. This festival gave me a chance to write a story about gratitude we call life. In this world filled with hate, greed and materialism we often forget that happiness truly lies in simplicity. Excited and glad to know the fact that my work was seen, judged and reviewed by a panel of such elite intellectuals from the film fraternity. I also would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to NFDC for this recognition.

Asho Rohi – Mirage

There are a lot of online film festivals out there, but during the lockdown there have been no online festivals. Carrot Films came up with the idea. I have done six short films so far, but this is the first time I took shooting within my house, and surprisingly, the artists are my sister and her daughter. The shooting time was very challenging and fun one, we shot the whole film using mobile phone. Though it was easy, but difficult to handle the exposure.

Kirat Alang – Chor Ki Dadi Mein Tinka

It was definitely a different kind of experience. It was quite challenging for us to work in the present environment where everything was under lockdown. These humongous constraints brought out the best in the creative me. Everything from conceptualization to execution had to be run over at least two to three times with each artist to give the desired shape to our concept.

Aryann Bhowmick- Citygold

I would say the experience was really special because this is the first short film that has been made by my family…the team just simply being my father, mother, and myself. Such an experience was only possible because of the Lockdown Film Festival.

Sankar Baidya- Beat of Life

This is my first ever attempt to tell a short story through a film. I had a lot of new experiences while making it. I’ve made my father act in it. For the very first time, I’ve realised that it is very difficult to present on the screen what I exactly think or imagine. I’m very happy to be a part of the LFF organized by Carrot Films. This digital film festival has encouraged me to take my first step in telling a story.

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