Nandita Das‘s directorial debut, Firaaq has been honored with three prestigious awards at the The Asian Festival of First Films (AFFF). The festival showcases exceptional films and documentaries from Asia, directed by debutant filmmakers. According to Shweta Asnani, executive producer of AFFF, “The Asian Festival of First Films is an important platform to display this exceptional talent and help educate an international audience about the complexities and diversities of Asian culture, whilst showcasing the beauty of the region through the spectacular filming locations. We congratulate all first-time filmmakers who have taken part in this year’s festival.”
Firaaq dazzled the the judges at the festival and was awarded not only Best Screenplay and the coveted Best Film, but it was also chosen for the Foreign Correspondents Association Purple Orchid Award for Best Film. An AFFF press release praised the the film saying “Nandita successfully takes the theme of sectarian violence, something which is so apparent in today’s society, and looks at the impact it has on ordinary people a month after a communal riot.”
Nandita says, “I got a fabulous response after the screening, both from the jury and the audiences, but nothing had quite prepared me for three awards! Even though now I have been to quite a few festivals with Firaaq and across board the response has been so heartening, but still I am always anxious when I go to a new place and wonder how people will react to the film. The first award for screenplay itself was a surprise, as I became a screenwriter by default and don’t quite see myself as a writer. Then came the second surprise when a very flattering citation was read by Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, who headed the Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) jury for the FCA Purple Orchid Award: ‘We were once again impressed by the overall level of entries, but one film really stood out for its making, tight directing and thought-provoking storyline and we had a clear winner for the FCA Purple Orchid Award for Best Film in Firaaq. I think everybody should watch this film.’ By this time I was quite elated and had begun texting furiously to my cast, crew, friends and family, with the good news. And just then I heard my name again and that too for the last and biggest award of the night – the Best Film! I have to say, to go up on the stage three times for three different awards, independently selected by two juries, was very gratifying. The night was made special by the audience who cheered every time the clips of Firaaq were shown on the screen and I could sense that it was quite a favourite even with the audiences. The most heartening moment was when a fellow competitor clapped louder for my film than his and when I looked at him with surprise, he said – ‘your film is better than mine!’ To be in the midst of so many talented and passionate first time directors was a special experience. Firaaq has just begun its journey of the competitive festivals with the one in Greece, where it won a special prize and now in Singapore, won three out of the four categories it was nominated for. Next is Kerala and then Dubai and finally 23rd Jan 2009 for the India release- what I am waiting for most.”
We here at BollySpice congratulate Ms. Das and the cast and can hardly wait for the release as well!