MIFF, organised by Films Division on behalf of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India and supported by Maharashtra Government, is held in Mumbai every alternate year. MIFF is key, needed and prized. However, it badly needs to be strengthened and given pride of place in the way that IFFI-Goa is bolstered on many fronts.

The 14th edition of MIFF concluded its week long run in Mumbai on February 3, 2016. This is the premiere festival in India for the non-feature film in its various genres, viz. the inventive short film, the valued documentary film and the awe inspiring animation film. While the festival is international it holds a golden carrot for filmmakers in India working outside of the feature film. MIFF invited 825 entries from 22 countries. Entries poured in from all parts of the country, from Jharkhand, Manipur, Assam, metro and small towns, also films that had a foreign input in it in terms of talent and money, Indian filmmakers based abroad, in fact, the whole gamut. The awards are a draw not for its prestige but also because each one carries a handsome cash component.

With all these inbuilt attractions, so little is known about MIFF generally speaking because the essential build-up as fanfare and pre publicity is totally absent. While MIFF’s intention is worthwhile and within tremendous constraints, its dedicated band of full-time senior executives, many of them practicing filmmakers, carry the load of making the festival take shape and happen. However, for a professional event along high standards, MIFF needs a trained festival cell that works all year round in keeping the festival up-to-date and handling all its many specialized parameters.

Over the years, I have eagerly followed this festival. This year I was on one of its juries, fortunately the National Jury, which meant that I saw all the Indian films hand-picked for being worthy of competition. I saw films that took me to so many different and distant parts of the country, films that looked fairly and squarely at the injustice and inadequacies of our social system, particularly the plight of the poor, the displaced and the targeted lower castes. Freedom of expression worked here. Laudable, because the film is presented by the government.

The short films screened pried into inner recessions of existing in an unstable world. The animation worked gloriously, delving into our mythology and beliefs while also looking into human rights that need to be enforced today. MIFF is no ordinary festival. It links us to our living, thinking world of reality and belonging. It is an information pool of our country, our world and our times.

Then why is MIFF given such short shrift? For one, it is held biannually – every two years, which is counter productive. Documentary films, unlike the feature film, are linked to the immediacy of a world that is changing day to day, region to region, place to place, person to person. Films made over the past two years could be passé or even non-applicable.

MIFF is also a scaled, down festival in the way it is formulated and presented. It is far from the grand scale on which IFFI, Goa is mounted. MIFF in 2016 in particular seemed to be a small local event with venues that were collegiate in size and perception, located mostly within or accessible to the Films Division precincts on Malabar Hill. The program allowed for only one screening per film – usually festivals present three. How else can a viewer catch up with films that have created a buzz?

MIFF, with its wide diversity and content should be held at annually, as has been said on its platform ad nauseam. Only then will the non-fiction films impact viewers as forcefully as they should.

Despite the lack of hype, at the closing ceremony, it was heartening to witness the palpable excitement of the wide assortment of filmmakers present and also heartening to see them go forward to collect their awards.

MIFF needs to be primed into a truly international festival of importance and impact. It is the non-feature film that is drawing increased interest in international film circles, winning acclaim and awards consistently. The non-feature film produced by the Film and Television Institute, Pune, the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata, the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore and other film departments of academic and research institutes are being noticed worldwide and there is a demand for them. India’s burgeoning animation films are sought after and liked. .

MIFF deserves the status, the budget, the world perception of a major film event in India – rating among its top festivals. Shri Vinod Tawde, Minister, Government of Maharashtra, held out a sliver of hope in his closing day comments. He requested the I & B Ministry to open a channel devoted to the non-feature film. He also underlined the need for an annual MIFF, adding, to the delight of all those present, that his Ministry is ready to host MIFF for the interim year to make MIFF an annual event.

2016 Main MIFF awards

International Competition Best Short Fiction upto 45 mins, shared by…

*Director Devashish Makhija’s “Agli Baar” – Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000 + Certificate and Producer Anuj Gosalia – Golden Conch + Rs 1,00,000 + Certificate

*Director Ingo Putze’s “Solo Finale” Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000 + Certificate and Producer Anuj Gosalia Golden Conch + Rs 1,00,000 + Certificate

International Competition - Animation

*Director Debanjan Nandy’s “Chaaya” – Golden Conch + Rs 3,00,000 + Certificate

Producers Debanjan Nandy, Josh Lowe – Golden Conch + Rs 2,00,000 + Certificate (D.D. of Rs 1.00 Lac to each)

International Competition - Documentary Films upto 60 mins, shared by….

*Director Farida Pasha’s “My Name is Salt” - Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000 Producer Lutz Konermann – Golden Conch + Rs 1,00,000 *Director Abhay Kumar’s “Placebo” - Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000; Producers Abhay Kumar, Archana Phadke - Golden Conch Rupees 50 Thousand each *Director Haobam Paban Kumar’s “Phum Shang”, Golden Conch + Rs 3,00,000 Producer Films Division, Golden Conch + Rs 2,00,000

International Competition – Animation Film

Best Animator – Suresh Eriyat for “Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk” – Rs 1,00,000

Best Sound Recordist – Shantanu Yennemadi for “Nuptial Memoirs” – Rs 1,00,000

International Competition Technical Awards Documentary upto 60 mins and above 60 mins

Best Cinematography Lutz Konermann for “My Name is Salt, Rs 1,00,000

Best Editor Abhay Kumar, Archana Phadke for “Placebo” Rs 50,000 each

Best Sound Recordist Artur Kuczkowski “The Queen of Silence” – Rs 1,00,000

National Competition – Jury Special Mention

*Director/Producer Niharika Popli for “Rasan Piya” Director/Producer Devendra Singh Dungarpur for “The Immortals”

National Competition – Best Short Fiction(upto 45 mins) - shared by…

*Director Satindar Singh Bedi’s “Kamakshi – Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000 Producer Prashant Pathrabe – Golden Conch + Rs 1,00,000 *Director/Producer Payal Kapadia “The Last Mango Before the Monsoon” – Golden Conch + Rs 1,50,000 and Golden Conch + Rs 1,00,000

National Competition Documentary upto 60 mins

Director Hardik Mehta’s “Amdavad Ma Famous” – Golden Conch + Rs 3,00,000 Producer Akanksha Tewari – Golden Conch + Rs 2,00,000

National Competition Documentary above 60 mins

Director/Producer Chandrasekhar Reddy’s “Fireflies in the Abyss”– Golden Conch + Rs 3,00,000 and Golden Conch + Rs 2,00,000

National Competition Technical Awards Short Fiction upto 45 mins

Best Cinematographer Rangarajan Ramabadran and Best Sound Recordist Sandro Sadhukhan for “Kamakshi” – Rs 1,00,000 to each Best Editors Payal Kapadia, Ranabir Das for “The Last Mango Before the Monsoon” Rs 50.000 to each

National Competition Technical Awards – Documentary (upto 60 mins & above 60 mins shared by…Best Cinematographer *Chandrasekhar Reddy for “Fireflies In The Abyss” Rs 50,000 *Niraj Samad for “Letter from Korlai”- Rs 50,000 Best Editor *Hardik Mehta for “Amdavad Ma Famous” -Rs 50,000 *Renjith Kumar for “18 Feet” – Rs 50,000 Best Sound Recordist K Mark Swer for “Brief Life of Insects” – Rs 1,00,000

(Picture is a still from . Debanjan Nandy's "Chaaya” )