Free Press Journal

‘Lady of the Lake’ rocks at the Stuttgart Indian Film Festival


On a winning spree, Haobam Paban Kumar, director of Lady of the Lake – Loktak Lairembee bagged his latest accolade, this time at Europe’s biggest Indian film festival in Stuttgart, Germany. The ethnographic thriller was awarded the German Star of India in the feature film category, while the award in the short film category went to Azaad by Rahul V. Chittella.

In the documentary segment, The Cinema Travelers by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya won the German Star of India. Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy won the Director’s Vision award for the drama An Billion Colour Story. The 14th edition of the fest opened with Amir Masurkar’s black comedy Newton which depicts a dutiful Indian election campaigner (played by Rajkumar Rao) in the Chhattisgarh jungle, where his goal is to get the Gond Adivasi people to the ballot box. A Death in the Gunj, Lipstick under my Burkha, Dilip Mehta’s documentary Mostly Sunny about ex porn actress Sunny Leone, and the Bollywood flick Raees were some of the other films screened at the Stuttgart fest which concluded July 23.

Festival director Oliver Mahn, an annual visitor to Mumbai and other cities, for acquiring films, hosted Indian film-makers including Sumira Roy (Last days, Last Shot), Mohan Agashe (Kaasav – Turtle), Madhura Dalimbkar (The Red One), Dev Benegal (Road, Movie, MFG Masterclass and jury member), Vinod Kapri (Pihu), Mangesh Joshi (Lathe Joshi) Varun Trikha (The Wall) and Shubhashish Bhutiani (Mukti Bhawan – Hotel Salvation) French actor Simon Frenay, who plays a leading role in Onir’s film, Shab – The Night, travelled from Paris to be in attendance.

The big winner of the festival Loktak Lairembee – Lady of the Lake was given the award and cash prize of 4,000 euros by Herr Andreas Lapp, honorary consul of India for Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz, who also visits India each year, and has sponsored Indian schools under an Indo-German education pact. In the jury’s view, Haobam Paban Kumar’s film offers “an unflinching view of the convention of the cinema” and simultaneously tells a story that is relevant to our time.” Kumar’s feature film debut was filmed exclusively with amateur actors around Loktak Lake in northern India. In this scenic paradise, extreme beauty meets extreme violence.

The jury felt that, “the team of film makers carve out a subtle, poetic and even hypnotic way into a world between dream and reality, where issues such as expulsion, human rights and conflicts that arise in our home, our world and our environment are portrayed in this film with great integrity and honesty.”

Azaad by Rahul V Chitella shows how fearless and courageous journalists can be. The jury commended the film for its “strong and nuanced narrative structure, which links the private and the political in a refreshing way.” Cinema Travelers by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya was filmed deep in the Indian countryside, and shows how much cinema fascinates the rural population. Bernd Lützler’s quirky ‘Camera Threat’ earned Honourable Mention for a playful dialogue between analogue and digital film material, actors and director on a casting couch.