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Indian cinema turned 100 last year, and while the centenary was celebrated with festivities focusing on Bollywood, two former print journalists—Narender Yadav and Tanvi Rustagi—put together a team to do something different. They launched the three-day Woodpecker Film Festival in the winter of 2013 as a dedicated platform for documentaries and short films focusing on contemporary socio-economic, developmental and cultural issues.
“Besides Bollywood, many other genres are part of cinematic traditions in India, but they got hardly any mention in the celebrations of 100 years of cinema. We wanted to put the spotlight on diverse works produced all across India. This included films and documentaries, as well as advertisements about socially relevant issues,” says Yadav.
This year’s edition of the Woodpecker festival will screen 64 films (in seven Indian languages) across 10 categories—including environment, forest and wildlife, livelihoods, gender, children, education, religion and culture.
The festival will open on 11 December at the Capital’s India Habitat Centre with a short Marathi film called Babai. Directed by Amit Sonawane and Kavita Datir, the film chronicles the life of an 81-year-old woman porter and won the Best Short Documentary Award at the recently concluded International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.
The Pad Piper directed and produced by Akansha Sood Singh, which won the National Award for Best Scientific Film in 2013, documents the story of the man who invented an affordable sanitary napkin for millions of under-privileged women, Candles In The Wind, directed by Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl, reveals the reality behind farmer
suicides in Punjab and the crisis that widows of these farmers are facing. In Search Of Destiny, directed by Aakash Arun, captures the life of coin divers who make a livelihood retrieving coins thrown into the Yamuna river as offerings to the gods. Ritesh Sharma’s Rainbows Are Real centres on the trials and tribulations of the transgender community.
The festival is one of the few film festivals across the globe that brings together a mélange of visual content on one stage. It is also a platform where student film-makers get to showcase their work. This year, 16 films made by student film-makers from the Film and Television Institute of India, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University will be screened. But the highlight is a masterclass on “Film Restoration And Preservation”, to be conducted by renowned film-maker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
The Woodpecker Film Festival 2014 will be held from 11-13 December, at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road. Timings vary. The masterclass will be held on 12 December, 3-5pm. For the schedule, call 41661868 or visit www.woodpeckerfilmfestival.in