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Haobam Paban’s ‘Nine Hills One Valley’ wins special mention in Ottawa Indian Film Fest Awards

Nine Hills One Valley (2020) evokes the futility and barbarism of ethnic conflict through the journey of a Tangkhul man travelling to Imphal City

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Imphal: Haobam Paban Kumar’s second feature – Nine Hills One Valley (2020) which evokes the futility and barbarism of ethnic conflict through the journey of a Tangkhul man travelling to Imphal City bagged the Special Mention in the Ottawa Indian Film Festival Awards 2022  held from June 14 to 18 in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. 

In this 5th edition of Ottawa Festival, Nine Hills One Valley was selected in the competition section with other 11 films. 

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Tara Ramanujan’s debut Forbidden (Nishiddho) which recounts the unlikely kinship between an ex-idol maker from  Kolkata and a tough Tamil midwife bagged the Best Film in the Festival. The award for Best Direction went to Bharat Mirle for The Road to Kuthriyar; Best Actress to Gargi Roy Chowdhury for Mahananda; Best Actor to Prabhakar Kunder for The Chicken Curry (Koli Taal). and Best Screenplay to Deepankar Prakash for Naneera. The award for Best Short Film went to Together by Azad Alam.

The three-member jury namely Mariam Hamdy (Egypt), Premendra Mazumder (India) and Carlos Coelho Costa (Portugal) selected the awards from the Festival’s official competition. Mariam Hamdy is a Film Professor at the American University in Cairo and a Film programmer at Aswan International Women Film Festival. She has also given several independent directing and screenwriting workshops and, above all, she is an independent filmmaker. Premendra Mazumder has been writing about cinema for over four decades and he has been active within the Film Society since 1977. 

He is currently Vice‑President of the Federation of Film Societies of India and Asia‑Pacific Secretary of the International Federation of Film Societies (IFFS). He holds the office of the Secretary for the India chapter of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI).

Carlos Coelho Costa is a professor at the Universidade da Maia, Portugal and  is also an acclaimed film and television director and producer, founder of Produtora Megalito Media, having so far won over 300 international film awards. He is also the Artistic Director for the Festival International de Cinéma et de Mémoire Commune (Nador, Morocco).

Haobam Paban Kumar, an Indian filmmaker from the state of Manipur, poses for portrait at Satyajit ray Film & Television Institute in Kolkata. (Photo by – Subrata Biswas)

Anam Ahum is the main protagonist of the 75–minute long film- Nine Hills One Valley produced by Warepam Jhansirani and Haobam Paban Kumar for Oli Pictures. National Film Awardee Irom Maipak and Ranjan Palit are cameramen. Sound is done by Sukanta Majumdar and Editing by Sankha and Story, Screenplay and Direction by Haobam Paban Kumar.

An accomplished documentarian, a director of two non-fiction features and six shorts since 2005, Haobam Paban Kumar is a prominent voice coming out of the restive northeastern Indian state of Manipur, on the border of Burma (Myanmar). He also dabbles in the art of fiction storytelling. 

His debut fiction feature, Lady of the Lake (Loktak Lairembee), was featured at the 67th Berlin Film Festival in 2017. Nine Hills One Valley is his second narrative feature. Winner of the Special Jury Award at the 14th Manipur State Film Awards, the film was selected for the Jogja NETPAC Asian Film Festival, the International Film Festival Trissur, the Kolkata International Film Festival and as part of the India Gold section of the Mumbai Film Festival.

Haobam Paban Kumar said, “Nine Hills One Valley is my personal journey about my intrinsic dilemma of being born in a place like Manipur, which is absorbed into the tapestry of the diversity of indigenous people. Here, people aspire to reach out for an elusive harmony while standing up each day for their forest and land and culture. This film was made during the distressing solitude of the Covid pandemic.”

Haobam Paban Kumar is one of the leading independent filmmakers of India who was honoured with the title- Legend of Indian Cinema by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India  in the 50th International film festival of India 2019. 

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