The fifth Caleidoscope Indian Film Festival (Sep. 5 - Sep. 8, 2019) featured 15 multilingual films at 4 different theatrical venues. Over 800 people attended the screenings, which covered contemporary, powerful cinematic works from India’s top arthouse productions. The films were in multiple Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali and English, and were evaluated by an experienced jury of five judges.
Caleidoscope is currently the only South Asian Film Festival in New England to be recognized by IMDB. The festival received over 300 submissions this year and had to be very selective in choosing the final 15.
“We were fortunate to be able to select really groundbreaking films this year, each highlighting a specific dimension of human character or social perception. While a few like Rohena Gera’s Sir, (Cannes ‘18), Churni Ganguly’s Tarikh (Best Dialogue National Award ‘19) and Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan (4 National Film Awards, ‘18) were internationally acclaimed and drew large crowds, there were many premiering gems waiting to be discovered. Another film which recorded a full house was Anand Bhatt’s Encrypted - The Cyber Story, featuring local actress and producer Gunjan Kuthiala. The same session also screened Sindhustan, a story of partition and preservation of Sindhi heritage through body tattoos.
Each film affected the audience deeply, and just as they felt it couldn’t get any better, the next screening would give birth to a new public favorite. The inaugural Tamil film KD which explored a wonderful friendship between an 80 year old man and an eight year old buy was seen by a small audience, being a weeknight, but it received huge accolades, with some tweeting about it’s virtues. Actress Tillotama Shome, no stranger to the Caleidoscope regulars, dazzled viewers again in her superb acting as a diffident housemaid in Sir and a mature mother in the closing premiere film Chintu Ka Birthday. Other films that impressed the audience was Arjun Dutt’s debut directorial Abyakto, Santanu Ghosh’s Kolkatay Kohinoor and Shoib Nikash Shah’s Oxygen.
The festival also had a special world premiere of Anna and Ahana, an English film on tacit, subliminal domestic violence. The film was funded by Rhode Island College, directed by Arup Dey and produced by Tanni Chaudhuri, a faculty of the college.
While the key nominations for the top awards were obvious, the jury had a really difficult time choosing a definite winner in each category. In the end, the relatively unknown film that many thought would be a kids story - Chintu ka Birthday, set in 2004 Baghdad - won the high honors of Best Film, Best Technical Excellence and Best Character in a Negative Role, played brilliantly by Nate Scholz. Mr Reginald L Barnes, an actor in the film was present to accept the awards on behalf of the directors Devanshu Singh and Satyanshu Singh. Not far behind was Nagarkirtan, which bagged the Best Director, Best Actor and the Audience Choice awards, while Namita Lal of Oxygen received the Best Actress distinction. The Best short film prize was won by The Wallet, featuring Naseeruddin Shah and directed by Saumitra Singh. The full list of awards is available on the festival site www.indianfilmfestivalboston.com
A key attraction of the festival this year was a huge 10’ x 12’ hand painted banner, prepared by artist Indranil Ghosh, exclusively for the festival. The colorful backdrop hung at O’neil Cinemas, Littleton for a full week and provided the perfect photo-op for both celebrities and film attendees.
From this year, the festival was organized by a new MA non-profit called Indian Arts Boston (indianartsboston.org). For the past 4 years, Calcutta Club USA was the organizer of Caleidoscope, and will remain as a partner for hosting both the annual Caleidoscope and the Sanskriti Book Festival, scheduled for Spring 2020. “We are hoping this move will allow us to attract more volunteers and larger grants,” said Chitro Neogy, the Festival Director of Caleidoscope. “We look forward to a sustainable Indian Film Festival in Boston, well respected for its content, objective jury and curation of films on contemporary issues.”
The festival had a large number of sponsors including The Boston Group (Subu Kota), Raj and Nalini Sharma, Urban Public Companies (Neil Shah), The Navani family (eClinicalworks), Shemaroo Entertainment, NRILife (Gunjan Kuthiala), Ram and Meetu Gupta, Kanchan Thareja Bhatti and Arushi Divyakirti (New York Life), Pushpa Karna (Aalok fashions), Anjan Ghosal (Ghosal Entertainment), Partha Ghosh, Debashree Ganguly, Tanni Chaudhuri, Vince Bollinger (Ocean State Film Studies), Gauri Datta (Lekhoni), Bharat Singh (Talentburst), Gope Gidwani (A+ Home Medical Supply), Joydip Kundu and Gargi Chakrabarty, Apratim and Urmi Purakayastha, Sandip Bose, Ujjayant Chakrabarty and Suparna Mukherjee.