Sabin Alun, the 52-minute film made by late Altaf Majid, has won the Cinema Experimenta Award at the Sign Festival organised by the Federation of Film Societies of India, Kerala.
About the film
The film examines the oral singing traditions of the Karbi tribe from Assam. One of the stories that have passed down the generations is a local version of the Ramayana epic, in which Sita is Sinta, the brothers are named Ram and Lokon, and the villain is Ravon. Sabin is the other name for Shurpanakha, whose nose is cut off by Laxman, forcing Ravana into taking revenge for her humiliation by abducting Sita.
Rather than a straightforward information-led documentary that introduces us to the Karbi tradition and includes interviews with the community members, Mazid gets performers to sing and enact episodes from the epic. The documentary brilliantly captures with minimal resources the manner in which the Karbis have merged the themes of the Ramayana with their animistic tenets and agricultural lifestyle.
Why was the film chosen?
The festival organisers said the Altaf Majid film has been selected for the award for its multi-layered deconstruction of an old tribal myth through a uniquely contemporary and irreverent treatment.
It is to be noted the jury of the festival for 2016 comprised noted documentary filmmaker of Final Solution fame, Rakesh Sharma (chairperson), noted film critic and activist of the cine club movement Premendra Majumdar (member) and noted cinematography expert Fowzia Fathima (member).
About the director
Eminent film critic turned turned documentary filmmaker, Altaf Majid is known for his experimental films. He restored the first Assamese film Joymoti (Joymoti, 1935) in the year 2001. He passed away earlier this year in Bangalore.