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Asian Film Festival ends on a good note

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Monday, July 24, 2006 

New Delhi (UNI): Presence of a galaxy of stars from the Bollywood firmament today marked the finale of the Osians' Cinefan Festival of Asian cinema even as a majority of awards were bagged by films from the stable of sensible or parallel cinema. In what can be seen as a sign of the diverse worlds of commercial and art cinema coming together on one platform, a host of stars from the mainstream Bollywood honoured their counterparts in the parallel cinema at the closing ceremony of the Asian film festival, which tonight concluded with the screening of the Iranian film 'Offside' by Jafar Panahi. Filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli won the Special Jury award for his film 'In the Shadow of the Dog' while the Best Film Award was bagged by The Cleansing Rites(Suddha) by P N Ramchandra, the first film in Tulu language. The Best Actor award was bagged by Subratta Dutta for his role in 'Calcutta Unabashed' while the Best Actress award was won by Tannishta Chaterjee for her role in the same film.

While the glamorous Urmila Matondkar handed over the Best Actor award to Subratta Dutta, actress Nandita Das gave the award for best actress in the section and Bollywood actor Juhi Chawla gave the award to filmmaker P N Ramchandra. The Phillipines film 'Bet Collector' bagged three awards - FIPRESI jury Award for Best film as well as the Best Actress and Best Film Award in the Asian competition section. The Turkish film Two Girls by Kutlug Ataman won the Special Jury Prize in the Asian competition section. Two films, Homeland by Tareque and Catherine Masud from Bangladesh and Love's Lone Flower by Tsao Jui Yuan from Taiwan, won a special mention in the Asian competition section. The NETPAC jury award went to Midnight My Love from Thailand.

After a week of playing truant with the audiences whole of last week when, barring a Manisha Koirala or a Anurag Kashyap, none of the stars from the tinsel world made an appearance at the eight Asian film festival, Saturday saw a host of celebrities from the world of Bollywood descend on the Siri Fort complex. Just when cinema buffs had given up all hopes to 'catch a glimpse' of any Bollywood star at the Asian film festival, which concludes this evening, they were suddenly showered with the presence of stars like Urmila Matondkar, Raima Sen, Shyan Munshi, Jimmy Shergill, Sanjay Suri and yesteryear's Bollywood heartthrob Shashi Kapoor. Actors Shyan Munshi and Raima Sen were here in the connection with the screening of their film The Bong Connection, a hilarious and passionate look at the Bengali community worldwide.

Pleasantly surprised at the huge crowd that thronged the Siri Fort for the screening of the film, actor Raima Sen said,''It is heartening to witness such an encouraging response to one's film by a discerning crowd thronging the festival.'' Also present on the occasion were the film's director Anjan Dutt, who earlier made the Hindi feature film Bada Din in 1997. Shyan Munshi, who plays Andy, a young Bengali musician who returns to Kolkata in search of his roots, was here along with his actor wife Piya Roy Chaudhry, who also features in the film.

The day also witnessed yesteryear's Bollywood star Shashi Kapoor make an appearance at the Asian film festival. Speaking to mediapersons, the actor, who was here to catch up with some good films being screened at the festival, expressed elation over the fact that films by talented young and upcoming filmmakers were finally finding an outlet at the Asian film festival. ''There is not much of good cinema being made in the country. So, if some filmmakers are attempting good films, they should be encouraged by showcasing at forums like the Asian film festival.'' The evening saw the glamorous Urmila Matondkar make an appearance at the Osians' Cinefan along with actors Jimmy Shergill and Sanjay Suri in connection with the world premiere of their latest film Bas Ek Pal, directed by talented young filmmaker Onir.

Speaking on the occasion, Sanjay Suri, who incidentally hails from Delhi, said it was a homecoming for him every time he came to Delhi considering that it was his first home. ''However, this visit is all the more special considering that my latest film is being screened at the Asian film festival before a discerning audience of cinegoers,'' Sanjay said. Another star of the film , Juhi Chawla, was, however, not present due to here engagements in Mumbai and would be reaching Delhi this morning.

Also present at the closing ceremony were actors Meeta Vashisht, Rajit Kapoor, renowned filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Bobby Bedi, Anwar Jamal and Pan Nalin as well as several personalities from the world of international cinema. Speaking on the occasion, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi, who was the chief guest, said the Asian film festival made an immense contribution to bringing together the best of Asian cinema on one platform. ''Also, the quality of the Indian films selected for the screening at the festival reflects the vibrancy of the Indian film industry,'' he said.

The ten-day event, which witnessed screening of over 100 films from 40 countries. showcased to the cinema lovers the best of Asian and Arab cinema. Organised by Mr Nevile Tuli's Osians Connoiseurs of arts, the Asian film festival this year screened 120 films from 40 countries in Asia. Unlike earlier years, when the entry to the film festival was free for the public, this year, the general public had to pay Rs 20 per ticket to watch the films on show at the festival. Despite the shows being ticketed, a huge crowd of cine lovers thronged Siri Fort to witness the 'cream of Asian cinema' at the festival. Infact, an unprecedented rush marked the screenings of Pan Nalin's Valley of Flowers (which was the opening film at the festival), Naseeruddin Shah's debut directorial venture Yun Hota To Kya Hota, Anjan Dutt's The Bong Connection, The Last monk, Rajat Kapoor's Mixed Doubles, Rithwik Ghatak's Meghe Dheke Tara, and Siddhartha. Infact, repeat screenings of several films like The Last Monk, Mixed doubles, Siddhartha and Stanley Kwan's Everlasting Regret had to be organised on popular demand.

Expressing elation at the huge turnout for the screenings at the festival, Cinemaya editor Aruna Vasudev, who started the Asian film festival in 1999, said. ''The rush at the screenings, despite the intrduction of tickets, shows there is an expanding space for different kind of cinema in India,''she said. The festival also witnessed the presence of several prominent personalities from Indian and international cinema. The festival also witnessed the presence of filmmakers Rajat Kapoor, Sudhir Misra, Anurag Kashyap, Naseeruddin Shah and actors Irfan Khan, Manisha Koirala, Konkona Sen, Jimmy Shergill, Sanjay Suri, Urmila Matondkar, Juhi Chawla, Raima Sen and Shyan Munshi.

While Naseeruddin Shah, along with Konkona Sen, were here for the screening of Yun Hota To Kya Hota on July 19, Rajat Kapoor was here in connection with the screening of Mixed Doubles. Also seen were Urmila Matondkar, Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri and Director Onir in connection with the screening of their film Bas Ek Pal yesterday. Also gracing the festival were Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal and Gautam Ghose. The festival also played host to a large number of luminaries from Asian cinema such as Peggy Chiao, Jean Claude Carriere, Mark Damon, Xie Fei and Tu Duu Chih Tony Rayns.

Besides the Indian competition and the Asian competition section, Osian's Cinefan showcased a clutch of outstanding films in two of its well established sections - Cross cultural encounters (featuring films from different regions of the world) and Arabesque (the latest films from Arab countries) - as well as a large mosaic displaying the range of work being produced in Asia and India, in Asian Frescoes and Indian Osean respectively. Another section, 'In Tolerance' featured three outstanding documentaries that hold a mirror to the past and the present.

While the jury for the Asian competition section was headed by award-winning Japanese filmmaker Ryuichi Hiroki and consisted of renowned filmmaker from Hong Kong Stanley Kwan, Chinese filmmaker Xie Fei, Indian filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Indonesian actress Jajang c Noer, the Indian competition jury was headed by Italian writer-director Italo Spinelli, the other members being award-winning Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin, Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara and Iranian actress Niki Karimi. Also featured was a special tribute to filmmakers Ritwik Ghatak and Stanley Kwan which included films like Love Unto Waste, Rouge, Centrestage, Lan Yu and Everlasting Regret by Stanley Kwan and Pathetic Fallacy (Ajantrik), Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-capped Star), Subarnarekha and Ekti Nadir Naam (The Name of a river) by Ritwik Ghatak.

The film festival had a special section on the Buddha wherein about a dozen films touching upon Buddhism were screened to commemorate the 2550th anniversary of the birth of the Buddha. Films like Neten Chokling Rinpoche, Sudipto Sen's The Last Monk, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, Franz Osten's The Light of Asia, Ho Quang Minh's Gone Gone Forever Gone, Nabendu Ghosh's Trishagni, Im Kwan Taek's Come, Come, Come Upward and Conrad Rook's Siddhartha were featured in the special section on Buddha titled The Middle Path: a Focus on Buddhism. Four films from the banner of New Theatres were screened at the festival, in acknowledegment of their 75th year in the business.

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