Imphal: A 52-minute long documentary film – Highways of Life directed and scripted by Amar Maibam won the Best Film award in the international competition of the 8th Liberation DocFest Bangladesh-2020 held during June 16 to 20 in Dhaka.
The film, which had its world premiere on June 18 in the festival, journeys a group of truckers as they manoeuvre through the perilous highways, putting their lives on the frontline, ferrying essential commodities to serve the people of Manipur in two intense public movements played out on the highways.
The film produced by the Films Division tells the story of a highway truck driver as he goes about his job of ferrying in essential commodities for the landlocked state amidst blockades and violent protests that often an obstacle movement along the highways. The film speaks aloud, “They (drivers) are the unsung heroes of a landlocked state in the service of three million people.”
In the concluding ceremony held at Dhaka on Saturday, the festival director Tareq Ahmed said a total of 1800 films were submitted in the 8th DocFest till late March and 200 were selected from the list till last April. And finally a total of 83 films were screened throughout the five-day festival.
Kim Young Woo (programmer and chair at the DMZ DOCS festival, South Korea), jury member of the competition announced ‘Highways of Life’, a film from India by director Amar Maibam as the winner in the ‘International Competition’ section. Amar will receive 1,000 USD, a crest and a certificate.
Highways of Life, the only selected entry from India was pitched against seven documentaries from Belgium, Slovenia, Germany, Argentina, UK, Italy and Iran in the International competition section in the 5- day virtual festival streamed at www.liberationdocfestbd.org.
The film that was shot in five years from 2014 to 2018 already bagged four top awards- Best Non-Feature film, Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Editing in the Manipur State Film Awards 2020. The film is edited by Biju Das and the sound is designed by Partha Halder.
Amar Maibam is a ‘bus conductor’ turned filmmaker from Manipur who got suck into film making following his late father M.A. Singh, an ace filmmaker of Manipur.
Amar who himself cinematographed the 52- minute film said that he was attracted towards documentary films. “While me father’s forte was fiction story telling, I’m inclined towards independent filmmaking for now as it gives more freedom to tell stories of the human experience and how he gets by in this crazy world we all lived in ,” said the award winning filmmaker.
Amar’s debut documentary was City of Victims (2009) on the extra-judicial killings in Manipur. His second was –My Generous Village which won Special Jury award and Best Music in the Manipur State Film awards 2019. His fourth- NAWA-Spirit of Atey, a short documentary on the life of 13 years old boy bagged the Best Documentary in the 2nd Nagaland Film Festival 2019.
Amar is currently working on a film on the international woman weightlifter, Khumukcham Sanjita and her brother fighting for justice on the doping charge she faced.
When he came through with flying colours in an international competition of an international festival, Amar Maibam expressed his joy and said. “This win will ensure wider audience for untold stories of the lives of the highway truckers who are the unsung heroes of landlocked Manipur.”