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    66th National Film Awards: When 3 Women Filmmakers From Assam Smashed The Glass Ceiling

    Chaygaon girl Rima Das’ Bulbul Can Sing has been honoured with the Best Assamese Film award at the 66th National Film Awards.

    Ambitious. Determined. Passionate. Fearless. Defying all odds, three women filmmakers from Assam has set the example for other budding women filmmakers from the Northeastern region by bagging the prestigious 66th National Awards.

    Chaygaon girl Rima Das’ Bulbul Can Sing has been honoured with the Best Assamese Film award at the 66th National Film Awards, which were announced on August 9th, 2019. Interestingly, last year, Rima bagged four national awards for her Oscar-nominated film, Village Rockstars.

    Bulbul Can Sing

    The film revolves around Bulbul, a teenage school-going girl who grows up in a rural setting in Assam and eventually falls in love. While she is on the verge of discovering her teen life, a tragedy strikes with her best friend. Free-spirited, rebellious and stubborn Bulbul begins to question herself and her love life. The role of Bulbul is played by Arnali.

    Bulbul Can Sing also opened the 2019 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in Australia and won the title of ‘Best Indie Film’ at the festival.

    In The Land of Poison Women

    Another national award winner filmmaker, Manju Borah’s movie In The Land of Poison Women won the ‘Best Pangchenpa Film’. Borah started her directorial journey from the Assamese film Baibhab which was released in the year 1999.

    In The Land of Poison Women is based on the novel ‘Bixkonyar Dexot’ written by Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi. The language of the film is Pangsenpa, which is spoken by only 5,000 people who live near India-China border, around 100 kilometres from Tawang, in Arunachal Pradesh.

    Borah also served as a jury member at the Indian Panorama, IFFI 2007, 10th MAMI International Film Festival 2008 and 3rd Eye 7th Asian Film Festival Mumbai 2008, 55th National Film Awards for 2007 (Feature Films) Delhi 2009.


    Apart from these two amazing filmmakers, another Guwahati-based filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah’s Mishing bagged the ‘Best Sherdukpan Film’. The film based on the novel written by Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi is about an Army deserter who grows roots in the Sherdukpan community of Arunachal Pradesh and suddenly disappears only to resurface decades later. Once again, he vanishes leaving behind a curtain of curious questions.

    The language of the film is Sherdukpan which was spoken by around 4,000 people, but now, almost half of them have now forgotten it.

    Photo Courtesy: Bobby Baruah’s Facebook handle

    Bobby’s previous film Sonar Baran Pakhi was a biopic on popular folk singer Pratima Pande Barua, a Padma Shri awardee. The film was appreciated in international film festivals, namely Film Festival of Los Angeles and Dhaka International Film Festival.

    Another film from Assam called Ma.Ama by Dominic Sangma won the ‘Best Garo Film’ at the 66th National Awards. The plot of the film is about 90-year-old Philip Sangma who is in search of his dead wife, Anna, his quest for answers about his past, reconciliation with his memory of Anna, and the inevitability of death.

    Photo Courtesy: Cinestaan

    The Garo-language film is set in Sangma’s village on the border between Meghalaya and Assam. Ma.ama was the only Indian film to be selected for the international competition section at the Mumbai Film Festival which was held from October 25th-November 1st, 2018.

    Guwahati | First Published: Aug 12, 2019


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    First published