Curtains drew on the third edition of the Woodpecker Film Festival this Sunday with over 70 films and documentaries screened over the course of four days of the festival. The festival was held from 17 to 20 September, at Siri Fort.

A platform for independent filmmakers, who venture into making documentaries and short films on issues of social relevance, this year, the Woodpecker Film Festival witnessed films from all walks of life. Dibyajeevan Mohapatra, Senior Festival Manager, said to The Citizen, “The concept of the Festival originated three years back, in 2012, the year of the centenary celebrations of Bollywood. The already existing need of competent platforms for independent filmmakers, who worked on social issues, suddenly became blaringly obvious, amid the colourful celebrations in 2012, that sidelined them subtly, and hence Woodpecker was born.”

A filmmaker himself, Mohapatra, fondly called ‘Jeevan Sir’ by his team, has been associated with the festival since the last edition. “The satisfaction a filmmaker gets, when their movie is screened, specially at a Venue like Siri Fort, to a strong and interactive audience, is inexplicable. Even though, obviously, funding and partnerships were hard to come by, but the festival has really upped the ante this year. For the first time, we screened movies from Mexico and Nigeria, thus making it a truly International Festival,”he said.

What added to the profundity of the messages that the films carried was the interactive session with the filmmaker post the screening, wherein the makers shared anecdotes, ideas and inspirations, struggles, successes and answered a few questions as well. The Achievers 2015 awards were bagged by Shekhar Hattangadi (Santhara (A Challenge To Indian Secularism?); Category: Religion and Spirituality), Anil Yadav (Turning The Clock Back: The Bandhavgarh Gaur; Category: Forest & Wildlife) and Praveen Singh & Martin Dohrn (India’s Wandering Lions; Category: Forest & Wildlife). Additionally, another 12 films were awarded on the last day of the festival in various categories.

However, the highlight of the final evening, was when one of the three subjects of the movie ‘An Unlikely Match’, graced the occasion. The movie showed the story and struggles of three individuals in Delhi-NCR, who despite all odds, continued to care for and sustain stray animals on their own. One such individual from Saket, lovingly called ‘AmmaJi’, who took care of over 300 canines in her neighbourhood, on virtually non-existential income, talked to the audience about her struggles, which went far beyond monetary.

Mohapatra explains, “This is the kind of effect we had hoped to create. We wanted to retain the credibility and quality of the festival. This year we got over 200 submissions, but only about 70 made the final cut.” The participation of students was high, as this writer also a student, found.

The Woodpecker Film Festival surely touched hundreds of people in its third edition, and one can only hope that it returns, bigger, better and with double the number of films, next year around.