Bandar Band, the Iranian film directed by Manijeh Hekmat, was adjudged the best film in the Innovation in Moving Images (International Competition) category at the 26th Kolkata International Film festival (KIFF), which concluded on Friday.
Hekmat was awarded the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger prize and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh at the closing ceremony, which was held at the Nandan film complex in Kolkata.
Hekmat, who was unable to attend the ceremony in person due to travel restrictions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, gave a virtual vote of thanks during the closing ceremony.
Bandar Band follows the day-long journey of three musicians who are trying to reach Tehran to participate in a music contest while travelling through flood-ravaged, dilapidated countryside roads. The film premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
Artypkai Suiundukov won the Best Director award in the Innovation in Moving Images (International Competition) category and Rs 21 lakh as prize money for his film Shambala from Kyrgyzstan.
Ukrainian sports drama film Blind Fold, directed by Taras Dron, won the award in the Special Jury Mention category.
The awards were given by West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim at the ceremony.
In the Indian Language Film category, the Malayalam coming-of-age film Kolla Nottam (False Eye) directed by Rahul Riji Nair was adjudged the Best Film and was awarded Rs 7 lakh as prize money. Biswajit Bhora won the Best Director award for his Assamese directorial Balconi T Bhogoban (God On The Balcony) and won Rs 5 lakh as cash prize. The film centres around a farmer who struggles to take home his wife’s body on his bicycle after he fails to get an ambulance.
Bangladeshi film The Salt in the Water (Nonajoler Kabbo), directed by Rezwan Shariar Sumit, won the Best Film award in the Asian Select: NETPAC category.
Dusk, directed by Ujjwal Pal, won the Best Short Film award and prize money of Rs 5 lakh in the National Competition on Indian Short Films section.
Highways of Life, directed by Amar Maibam, won the Best Documentary Film award in the National Competition on Indian Documentary Films and prize money worth Rs 3 lakh.
Talking about the conducting a film festival amid a pandemic, KIFF chairman and Bengali filmmaker Raj Chakraborty said: “This was the first physical film festival to be held in India after the Covid outbreak, We were worried whether people would attend it. They did attend, maintaining protocol.”
During the inaugural ceremony of the film festival on January 8, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that all cinema halls in the state would operate with 100% seating capacity. Film screenings during KIFF at the Nandan complex, however, continued with 50% seating capacity.
This year, 132 films were screened from across 45 countries. Special screenings were held in honour of film personalities who died in 2020. The Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture was delivered by Thappad director Anubhav Sinha.