The eighth edition of the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival (BVFF) opened its doors today with a vibrant opening ceremony that pulsated with the spirit of cinema and cultural celebration. The magical evening at Jyoti Chitraban, Kahilipara, Guwahati, saw a galaxy of stars, filmmakers, dignitaries, and film enthusiasts gather to witness the start of the one of the most-awaited and popular film festivals of Northeast India.
Assamese actress Aimee Baruah, Director and Producer Leena Yadav, Producer Ronnie Lahiri and Royal Multisport Chairman Ranjeet Barthakur were among the luminaries present on the opening night
The opening ceremony began at 4:30 PM with a mesmerizing Satriya performance by the acclaimed Mridusmita Das, setting the stage for a delightful journey. Taking the stage, Festival Director Tanushree Hazarika delivered a passionate speech, outlining the vision and significance of BVFF as a platform for diverse and powerful storytelling which seeks to empower and provide exposure to the filmmakers of Northeast India.
Tanushree Hazarika, Festival Director- BVFF passionately spoke about what it meant to host the festival post pandemic
“This year, the BVFF isn’t just bigger; it’s overflowing with stories, voices, and dreams. We’ve pushed the boundaries, not just geographically, but in the very essence of what a film festival can be. Although, the COVID-19 pandemic had challeneged us in different ways, the motivation from friends and fans of the festival inspired us to make a comeback. In this edition of BVFF, you’ll find narratives from every corner of India, each film different from the other. From the snow-capped peaks of Ladakh to the West Coast of Goa and Karnataka, these films echo the rhythm of our diverse nation,” said Tanushree Hazarika, Festival Director, BVFF.
“Moreover, BVFF isn’t just about geographic expanse; it’s also about depth. We’re diving into the wellspring of unheard voices, showcasing stories that whisper and shout from the margins. There are films by and about women, and films on indigenous communities, and cultures and tradtions of Northeast India. These are the narratives that make us see the world through new lenses. And beyond the screen, we’re building a community. A vibrant ecosystem where filmmakers, actors, critics, and dreamers collide, sparking collaborations and conversations. There are also workshops, masterclasses, and panel discussions which will dissect the art of storytelling, nurturing the next generation of cinematic geniuses,” she added.
A special highlight of the ceremony was the segment, where the festival’s core team, namely, Pallavi Chumki Barua, film producer and legal practitioner, Bjorn Deniese, director, Tattva Creations Private Limited, Karma Paljor, senior journalist and editor in chief, East Mojo and Samujjal Kashyap, National Award winning filmmaker, shared their experiences and dedication in bringing BVFF to life this year.
“BVFF is not just a festival; it’s a movement. A movement for celebrating the power of stories to transcend borders, fuel empathy, and illuminate the soul. The films you’ll witness aren’t mere collection of visuals and stories; they’re vessels of empathy, catalysts for change, and windows into worlds unseen. It’s been a labor of love, a painstaking search for stories that sing in harmony with our festival’s soul,” said Pallavi Chumki Barua, Programming Head, BVFF.
“Selecting the films for BVFF this year wasn’t simply a matter of choosing titles; it was about curating a conversation, and carving out a space for voices that resonate with our core values. This year, we embarked on a quest for stories that mirror our vision and mission. We sought narratives that speaks about our universal concerns from different corners, films that give voice to the voiceless and films that highlight underrepresented perspectives. The result was such a diverse outcome of films where every film pulses with the vibrancy of India’s diverse culture and languages,” she added.
“This time the BVFF is more about experiencing films than it is about just seeing them. We have installed state-of-the-art projection systems that comply with international projection requirements. We have also given special attention to sound since watching films on its own cannot provide a satisfying cinematic experience. The development of an emotional connection requires the establishment of a high-quality audio and visual ecology. Additionally, this time around, the festival will have an additional screen, allowing us to screen more films and host more concurrent workshops and discussions. Thus, something may be found for everyone,” said Filmmaker Samujjal Kashyap, Technical Head, BVFF.
Adding further gravitas to the occasion, Leena Yadav, renowned filmmaker, Ronnie Lahiri, film producer, Sanjay Bhutiani, film producer, Aimee Baruah, National Award winning filmmaker and actor, Ranjit Borthakur, Indian bussinessman from Assam, Executive Chairman of Royal Multisport Pvt. Ltd., Amirt Pritam Dutta, National Film Award winning sound designer, and the President of the Film Fraternity of Assam, Dr. Hitesh Baruah, graced the stage as special invited dignitaries. Each guest was warmly felicitated and posed a question about their connection to cinema and the festival, culminating in insightful and inspiring responses.
“Northeast Indian cinema isn’t just a footnote; it’s a vibrant chapter in the national narrative. Stories bloom like orchids in the monsoon here. Stories of resilience, of love, of society and humanity, and of traditions and culture. There are stories that hold a mirror to our complexities, our struggles, and our soaring dreams. And the BVFF celebrates these stories, nurtures these filmmaking voices. Over the years, it has becomes a fertile ground where filmmakers, like get the opportunity to transform their passion. For as long as festivals like this exist, the embers of independent cinema will continue to glow,” said Filmmaker Leena Yadav, who is known for films like Parched and Teen Patti.
“Here’s to the filmmakers who constantly push their boundaries in terms of stories they tell and the subjects they chose, and the audiences who embrace them, and the festivals like BVFF that nurture the flames of independent cinema. BVFF is a colourful combination of diverse cultures, and a chorus of diverse languages. It has illuminated the path for filmmakers of the region to find expression and continues to do so, and long may they, the storytellers and the dreamers, walk this path together,” said film producer Ronnie Lahiri, who is known for films like Sardar Udham, Gulabo Sitabo, October, Pink and Piku.
Speaking on the importance of independent cinema, Sanjay Bhutiani, Producer of films like Mariam and Hotel Salvation said, “There’s a worldwide surge in appreciation of independent cinema, with its unique stories and perspectives. Northeast India’s film scene is also flourishing, and their films are on an upward trajectory. Soon, their work will be showcased at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, a testament to their growing talent. Platforms like the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival are playing a crucial role in supporting and propelling these filmmakers towards international recognition.”
Also speaking on the importance of mother tounge and film festivals, Aimee Baruah, National Award winning Actor-director said, “While attending the Cannes Film Festival, I witnessed a strong preference for the French language among the local filmmakers and audiences. This starkly contrasts with our tendency to give less importance to our own diverse languages. Therefore, it’s truly commendable that we celebrate our languages and the burgeoning film scene in this region. Organizing film festivals is no easy feat, and immense credit goes to Tanushree Hazarika for her dedication and efforts in making this event possible.”
“Film, a powerful medium of communication, allows filmmakers to give back to society. And very often this goes unrecognized. Moreover, Northeast India, a region brimming with natural beauty and cultural richness, provides fertile ground for films exploring themes of diverse ecosystems and biodiversity. Tanushree Hazarika, the festival director of the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival (BVFF), deserves tremendous credit for recognizing this potential,” said Ranjit Borthakur, Indian bussinessman from Assam, Executive Chairman of Royal Multisport Pvt. Ltd.
The ceremony reached its zenith with the traditional lamp-lighting ceremony, performed by the esteemed guests. The air crackled with anticipation as the stage transitioned to witness a spellbinding musical performance by the Bottle Rockets India led by talented musician, singer and actor, Arghadeep Barua. His soulful notes resonated throughout the hall.
It was followed by the premier of the opening film of the festival, Kooki, directed by Pranab J Deka and produced by Assam-based production house Niri9 and starring Ritisha Khaund, Dipannita Sharma, Bodhisattva Sharma, Devoleena Bhattacharjee, Rajesh Tailang, Ritu Shivpuri, Preety Kongana, Bibhuti Bhushan Hazarika, Monuj Borkotoky, Ranjeev lal Baruah, Swagata Bharali and Kamal Lochan among others. The screening marked the official start of the cinematic marathon, promising four days of immersive experiences, engaging discussions, and unforgettable encounters with stories from across India. The festival will continue through till December 17, 2023 at Jyoti Chitraban, Kahilipara, Guwahati.