MUMBAI, Jun 19: Filmmakers from Arunachal Pradesh joined their counterparts and film students from other North East states at the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The festival, which began on June 15, will continue until June 21, at the NFDC-NMIC Complex.

The event kicked off with the screening of the documentary "Billy and Molly: An Otter Love Story."

The festival features a diverse line up, including documentaries, short films, animations, and feature films. This year saw around 1,000 film submissions from across the globe, with notable entries such as "Flowering Man" by Soumyajit Ghosh Dastidar, "The Golden Threads" by Nishtha Jain, "My Father's Damn Camera" by Milos Tomic, "I Go Gaga: Welcome Home Mom" directed by Naoko Nobutomo, and the Berlinale Shorts Package curated by Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck.

A total of 314 films in 61 languages from 59 countries are being screened. Renowned international filmmakers are conducting over 25 masterclasses, panel discussions, and open forums on curated topics. Celebrities such as Randeep Hooda, Abhishek Banerjee, Divya Dutta, Avinash Tiwari, Madhur Bhandarkar, director Rahul Rawail, and Anand L Rai are in attendance.

Arunachalee documentary filmmaker Akom Don Emma shared her experience, "For a filmmaker like me, working in a place with scarce opportunities to learn and meet industry professionals, MIFF was a colossal opportunity. I gained practical knowledge and advice from experts and fellow filmmakers from around the globe. Films like 'Billy and Molly', 'Sunflower', and 'The Flowering Man' inspired me greatly. Despite initial challenges, I am returning to my village with invaluable knowledge and inspiration from MIFF."

Filmmaker Dr Delong Padung remarked, "I immersed myself in numerous screenings and competitions, discovering works that resonated with themes of societal change, environmental preservation, and human emotion. Films like 'My Mercury', 'I Go Gaga', and 'The Flowering Man' profoundly inspired me and broadened my perspective. Attending MIFF in Mumbai was an incredible experience. I gained insights into documentary filmmaking and short film competitions from renowned directors. The knowledge from panel discussions and workshops on AI, marketing, and distribution was immense. Now, I'm applying this knowledge to promote the film industry in Arunachal Pradesh, uncovering hidden talents and fostering growth."

Joram Jonah, another filmmaker from Arunachal, stated, "The Mumbai International Film Festival was an absolute delight. The depth and grace of storytelling, group discussions, Q&A sessions, one-on-one meetings with experts, and the numerous connections made within the film community were incredibly enriching."

Filmmaker Mankap Nokwoham, a student of FTII, added, "Attending MIFF offers an exceptional opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of cinema. The festival showcases a diverse array of films from various regions and countries and serves as a dynamic platform for networking with fellow cinephiles and filmmakers. MIFF has proven to be an enriching experience, offering insights into different forms and formats of contemporary cinema. It has also provided a valuable platform for interaction and collaboration among like-minded individuals, fostering discussions crucial for the growth of cinema in nascent stages, such as that of Arunachal Pradesh."

The Department of Information and Public Relations selected four independent filmmakers - Akom Don Emma, Joram Jonah, Mankap Nokwoham, and Dr Delong Padung to represent the state at the festival.

These filmmakers had either participated in the Arunachal Film Festival previously or collaborated with the department on film projects.

Sawang Wangchha, creative consultant for IPR and a member of the Arunachal Film Festival, accompanied them throughout the event.

During discussions, Armstrong Pame, director of the Film Wing, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, informed Wangchha that this marked the inaugural participation of students and filmmakers from North East states as delegates.

The students and filmmakers from the Northeast expressed their appreciation to joint secretary of films Vrunda Manohar Desai, and managing director of NFDC & festival director Prithul Kumar. They especially thanked Pame for promoting inclusivity and diversity at the event, and eagerly anticipated more future collaborations and film submissions from the Northeast.