IFFI 2023: 'Kantara' bags Special Jury Award

Persian film ‘Endless Borders’ won the Golden Peacock, and the Hindi comedy-drama series Panchayat 2 clinched the first-ever OTT Award for web series.
Kantara director Rishab Shetty
Kantara director Rishab ShettyTwitter/IFFIGoa
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Persian film Endless Borders by Abbas Amini has bagged the Golden Peacock for Best Film at the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that concluded in Goa, on Tuesday, November 28. Indian filmmaker Rishab Shetty bagged the Special Jury Award for Kantara, and the Hindi comedy-drama series Panchayat 2 that streamed on Amazon Prime, clinched the first-ever OTT Award for web series.

Endless Borders is an emotionally charged narrative set against the backdrop of an Iranian teacher's odyssey amid the turmoil ignited by the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The film intricately delves into the complexities of prejudice, moral dilemmas, and forbidden love. In a citation, the jury said, “The film is about how complicated physical borders might be, yet nothing can be more complicated than the emotional and moral borders that you impose upon yourself. Film festivals, after all, are about crossing borders and in the case of this film, the director has crossed political borders at the cost of his own freedom.”

Directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and written by Chandan Kumar, Panchayat 2 intricately weaves the tale of Abhishek Tripathi, an urban graduate reluctantly embracing the role of secretary at a decrepit panchayat office in the remote fictional village of Phulera. Following the resounding success of its debut season, the second season plunges deeper into Abhishek's life in Phulera, navigating fresh challenges amid village politics while preparing for his Common Admission Test (CAT), striving for a corporate future.  The second season, laced with relatable moments and humour, candidly depicts the daily trials of village life, spotlighting Abhishek's evolving relationships with Pradhan, Vikas, Prahlad, and Manju Devi, while juggling diverse village issues.

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Meanwhile, Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev won the Silver Peacock for Best Director for Blaga’s Lessons, Pouria Rahimi Sam was honoured with Silver Peacock for Best Actor (male) for his nuanced acting in Endless Borders, and Melanie Thierry was awarded Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Female) for her seamless expression of a wide spectrum of emotions in Party of Fools. Reger Azad Kaya received the Best Director Award for Debut Feature Film for When the Seedlings Grow

Acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, the Jury Chairperson, said that every film was taken seriously while judging them for the coveted awards. "It is so difficult to make a film. You have a script, nobody wants to listen to your script... then you get someone to listen to your script... then we say where the money is going to come from, then you find money and work for years trying to get a film made. So every film deserves all the attention," Kapur said, highlighting how important it is to take every film seriously. 

"Why is the film festival important? In the context of what is happening in the world right now... It is very important to tell our stories, because our stories are who we are... and if you tell our stories to people and they listen to our stories across borders, then people will understand each other. Films ultimately tell who you are, what your culture is," he said, adding that one needs to find human beings in every story and share the stories through platforms like IFFI. 

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the response to IFFI has been overwhelming, with thousands of delegates participating in it. “With the lush green forests, rivers and waterfalls, Goa is a filmmaker's paradise. When it comes to film locations, we have got a streamlined system for film shootings and hassle-free permits,” he said.

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