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Amar Maibam, the director cum cinematographer

Highways of Life Wins Top Award at International Documentary Film Festival

‘Highways of Life” – a Manipuri documentary on the lives of the highway freight truck drivers, by Amar Maibam has won the ‘Best Film’ in the 8th annual Liberation Docfest Bangladesh, 2020. The Liberation War Museum, a peoples’ museum dedicated to highlighting the history of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence is the host of the premier documentary festival.

Jury Member of the International Competition, Kim Young Woo, Programmer and Chair at DMZ DOCS festival, South Korea announced ‘Highways of Life’ as the winner in the ‘International Competition’ section. Amar will receive 1,000 USD, a crest and a citation.

Noted Bangladeshi filmmaker, Aka Reza Galib, Jury Member of the National Competition announced ‘Khunti (Road to Roots)’, a Bangladesh/India joint collaboration as the winner in the ‘National Competition’ category. The director of the film, Md Zahirul Hassan, will receive One Lakh BDTk, a crest and a citation.

Other recipients were ‘True False & A Revolution’ by Farid Ahmad won the Youth Jury Award in the ‘National Competition’ and ‘BUTTERFLIES IN BERLIN – Diary of a Soul split in two’ by Italian filmmaker Monica Manganelli won in the ‘International Competition’ section. ‘GALENA’ by Ezzatollah Parvazeh of Iran won the Special Mention in the ‘International Competition’ category.

The festival which aims to uphold new forms of viewing the human suffering and struggle for justice in the global perspective focused on breaking new ground and on the great diversity and vitality of storytelling and creativity of the documentary genre. Festival Director, Tareq Ahmed said that 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.

‘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, held from 16th – 20th June 2020.

Amar Maibam is a ‘bus-conductor’ turned filmmaker from Manipur who got suck into filmmaking, following his late father MA Singh, an ace filmmaker of Manipur.

Amar who himself cinematographed the 52-minutes film said that he is attracted towards documentary films. “While my father’s forte was fiction storytelling, I’m inclined towards independent filmmaking for now as it gives more creative freedom to tell stories of the human experience and how we get by in this crazy world we all live in,” said the award winning filmmaker.

His latest project, “Highways of Life” is produced by Films Division and 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 obstacle movement along the highways. The film that was shot over five years has already bagged four top awards – “Best Non-Feature Film”, “Best Direction”, “Best Cinematography” and “Best Editing” at the Manipur State Film Awards 2020.

Amar’s debut documentary is “City of Victims” (2009) on the extra-judicial killings in Manipur. His second documentary “My Generous Village” won “Special Jury” award and “Best Music” award at the Manipur State Film awards 2019. “NAWA- Spirit of Atey”, a short documentary on the life of a 13 years old trans-boy, his fourth, won the “Best Documentary” at 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.

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