Two Indian Documentaries Find Place in TIFF 2022- Winners List

When the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF2022) winds up its 47th season on Sep 18, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical creation, ‘The Fabelmans’ has bagged the prestigious People’s Choice Award. Sunday morning has witnessed the wrapping up of the 11-day festival along with the award ceremony followed by a number of free screenings of the Spielberg movie for the City of Toronto at various screening venues. The Platform Prize, another authentic TIFF recognition for championing bold directorial initiatives, went to the Korean-Canadian film ‘Riceboy Sleeps’, directed by Anthony Shim. According to the jury, the movie stands out with its deeply moving story of navigating racism, dislocation, family and love. It also shows how to merge cultures without erasing individuals.

Out of the six entries from India, two Indian directors bagged top honours with valued commendations for being brave in taking up the challenges in making their movies. They are Nisha Pahuja for ‘To Kill A Tiger’ and Vinay Shukla for ‘While We Watched’ (or NAMASKAR! MAIN RAVISH KUMAR)

To Kill A TIger
Scene from To Kill A Tiger

To Kill A Tiger is a documentary shot with the help of the National Film Board of Canada for telling the story of a 13-year-old girl from a poor family who was gang-raped in a village in Jharkhand, India. The family struggles to find justice against all odds. They reach an impasse wherever they go to get justice. The authorities, be it police or Panchayat, have nothing as a solution for them but to get the girl married to one of the culprits and save the dignity of the family. They all find fault with the survivor’s family for allowing the girl to mingle with men at midnight at a wedding function. Some NGOs and POCSO volunteers come up to rescue the family against the ostracism they face in the village. Their concerted efforts brought the criminals to justice by getting them long prison terms. While the crew of the film constantly goes behind the search for the truth they underwent a host of threats and challenges from the village community. Eventually, there are smiles on the faces of the family members and the survivor stands up to go ahead with her education with determination to succeed in life. It took 8 years for the director to complete the work of this movie.

Nisha Pahuja is an immigrant to Canada from Delhi and is the director of earlier documentaries like ‘Bollywood Bound’, ‘Diamond Road’ and ‘The World Before Her’. ‘To Kill A Tiger’ bagged the Canada Goose’s Amplify Voice Award for the Best Canadian film by a jury citing: ”It’s not easy to love film. In Nisha Pahuja’s ‘To Kill A Tiger’, a father defends his daughter, and together they change a village, a country and maybe the world.”

Ravish Kumar
Ravish Kumar of NDTV

‘While We Watched’ fetched another Amplify Voices Award to Vinay Shukla for the story of NDTV’s bold stand against the wrong policies of the Government of India, through a veteran journalist, Ravish Kumar. He declares boldly, ”My primary job is to ask the most difficult questions to those in power.” The film discusses the challenges faced by independent journalism in the biggest democracy in the world. Ravish Kumar, a courageous anchor stands against some channels that create fake news and thereby religious rivalry too.  He has received the Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalistic Excellence twice and the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2019.  The jury cited: ” While We Watched is a compelling, urgent film that collapses our differences. It’s a wake-up call to how perilous and fragile the relationship between a free press and democracy is everywhere.”

Fable Mans
Scene from The Fabelmans by Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film ‘The Fabelmans’ has won the People’s Choice Award, the biggest compliment of the TIFF. He reflects on his childhood days in Arizona which led him to be a renowned filmmaker. The film features Sammy Fabelman as the real-life Steven Spielberg, the leading character enacted by Gabriel Labelle, a Canadian actor. Sarah Polley’s ‘Women Talking’ and  Rian Johnson’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ won the second and third places in People’s Choice Awards, respectively.

Movies like Nomadland, Green Book, 12 Years A Slave, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire etc went places after winning Toronto’s prestigious People’s Choice Awards in earlier seasons.

Black Ice, Pearl, Weird, The Blackening,  Maya and the Wave, 752 Is Not A Number, The Whale, Snow in September, Same Old,  Nanitic, Sweet As, Viking, Leonard Will Never Die, A Gaza Weekend, Something You Said Last Week, Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On. Air Hostess 737, Simo etc are the films that won awards in various categories.

There were 250 films in the category of features as well as documentaries and about 20 short films in this year’s festival. TIFF continues its activities year-long, although the festival ended.

Suresh Nellikode is a film critic

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