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Newbies shock Aparna Sen
Aparna Sen, Madhur Jaffrey at the New York Indian Film Festival

Two first time directors --- Arjun Gourisaria and Moinak Biswas --- triumphed over the Bengali language works of veterans Aparna Sen (Iti Mrinalini) and Rituparno Ghosh (Noukadubi) with their Bengali film, Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring In The Colony) at the 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival.

Other winners were: best director, Aparna Sen, Iti Mrinalini; best actor, Rishi Kapoor, Do Dooni Chaar; best actress, Konkona Sen Sharma, Iti Mrinalini; best screenplay, Mohan Raghavan, T D Dasan Std VI B; best documentary, Max Carlson, Bhopali and best short film, Abhay Kumar, Just That Sort Of A Day.

Built around a dreamy poet and his secret admiration of a young woman who suddenly goes missing in Kolkata, Sthaniya Sambaad explores the tension between older and newer refugees from Bangladesh over space for their tenements.

The oldest Indian film festival in North America, the NYIFF was held May 4-8, and ended with a gala screening of Noukadubi, inspired by a Tagore novel. The screening and the award event at Asia Society was attended by was attended by Salman Rushdie, Mira Nair, Madhur Jaffrey, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Aparna Sen.

Journalist and Rediff India Abroad contributor Aseem Chhabra was the festival director. The jury comprised artists, critics and academics including New York University professor Claus Mueller, actress Madhur Jaffrey, scriptwriter Sabrina Dhawan and documentary maker Kavery Kaul.

For many years, the festival, organised by the Indo American Arts Council, used to be known as the Mahindra IAAC Film Festival.

Image: Aparna Sen, Madhur Jaffrey at the New York Indian Film Festival
Photographs: Jay Mandal

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