NYIFF 2021: Gandhi film honoured

New York

A documentary feature on Mahatma Gandhi, a documentary on the Sikh tradition of 'Seva' and a movie that explores the state of mind of a married woman during the Covid-19 lockdown are among the films that won top honours at the 2021 New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF).

The NYIFF awards were presented during a virtual ceremony on Sunday.

Other winners at the festival were "Nasir", directed by Arun Karthick, which won the award for best film; Akshata Pandavapura was named best actress for "Where Is Pinky?", the best actor award went to Siddharth Menon for "June" and the best director award to Ajitpal Singh for "Fire In the Mountains".

"Ahimsa Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless", directed by Ramesh Sharma, was awarded the best documentary feature.

As the world commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi in 2019, Sharma was inspired to revisit the iconic leader's life and philosophy. Shot in India, South Africa, the US and Europe, Ahimsa tracks the influence of Gandhi's non-violence approach on world leaders including Martin Luther King Jr, late Congressman John Lewis, former South African President Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. International musicians U2 and AR Rahman contributed to the title track of the documentary.

Rippin Sindher-directed "Seva" won the best documentary short. It highlights the idea of service, which is an important element of the Sikh religion, and underscores it against the backdrop of rising hate crimes against people of the Sikh community in the US, including the 2012 Oak Creek Gurudwara mass shooting.

Acclaimed actress Swastika Mukherjee-starrer "Tasher Ghawr", directed by Sudipto Roy, was honoured with the best short narrative award. The film explores the state of mind of a married woman, Sujata, played brilliantly by Mukherjee, during the coronavirus lockdown.

"Where Is Pinky?" also received the award for best screenplay, with script by Prithvi Konanur, and the best child actor award went to Karan Dave for "Habaddi".

The film festival, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), ran from June 4 - June 13 virtually, the second year in a row that the oldest and prestigious film festival that features cinema from India and diaspora has gone online due to the pandemic.

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