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“The urge to express one, is so inherent in the Manipuris that it has created such a tapestry of creative art forms with which the world has come to know them by” said Aribam Syam Sharma while accepting a lifetime achievement award from the State Government in 2016. Syam single-handedly kept Manipur cinema in the world cinema map with his masterpieces one after other. Manipur’s cinematic journey, which began with the theatrical release of ‘Matamgi Manipur’ in 1972, today is poised at the crossroad. Even though it annually produces about 70-80 low cost films, making it the top film producing state in the Northeast region and even beating Bengal cinema, the state does not even have a single proper cinema hall worth its name nor does it have a formal institution to train and teach aspirant filmmakers.

Fortunately, things are about to change and Manipur is likely to become the centre of documentary studies in the country, following the establishment of the Manipur State Film& Television Institute, MSFTI.

When the Central Govt. was looking to establish the third film & television institute of India in one of the states of Northeast India, filmmakers of Manipur campaigned hard to bring it to the state, enumerating several leveraging points but eventually Arunachal Pradesh was chosen. Seeing the disappointment of the film fraternity and the urgent need of the ever-growing local film industry, the Manipur Government decided to anywhere establish a state institute and managed to rope in the much respected, Nilotpal Majumdar or Shantida as he is passionately referred to as by his students and associates. Majumdar is one among those who had helped shaped the Satyajat Ray Film & Television Institute of India in Kolkata, when he served as its Dean, to what it has become today and he is probably the only documentary thinker who is closely connected with the global documentary industry at all levels, right from the funding institutions to the television level and all other stakeholders who really count in terms of international co-production and care for alternative narrative. He was recently awarded the EDN 2017 (European Documentary Network, Denmark) Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards developing the international documentary culture. Majumdar is also the architect of ‘DocedgeKolkata’ Asian forum for Documentary, the renowned focal point for documentary practice and incubation cum co-production platform of reality story telling which has grown to be one of the premiere international mentoring and pitching forum of the world.

Despite initial hiccups, Prof. Nilotpal Majumdar revealed that MSFTI is all ready to launch its two years Diploma in documentary filmmaking in the early part of August. According to the man of international authority in the documentary world and the passionate mentor and teacher, the course is most unique and special that it will make Manipur the centre of documentary studies. Eastern Panorama caught up with the man of the moment to understand the mission and vision of the Manipur State Film & Television Institute.

• How did you get associated with the Manipur State Film & Television Institute and what was the motivational factor that drew you to Manipur?

Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

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