Habitat Film Festival


Habitat Film Festival

The much-awaited event of the capital’s cultural calendar – Habitat Film Festival (HFF) – is back in the city with an impressive curation of nearly 40 feature films, 10 documentaries and three short film packages. The 16th edition of the Festival will take place from May 3-12 at the India Habitat Centre (IHC), Delhi, offering a vibrant collateral programme, including retrospectives, workshops, filmmaking master classes, panel and film book discussions.

Over the years, HFF has cemented itself as one of India’s most sought-after film festivals for showcasing the best of Indian Cinema from the year gone by. This year, the lineup features several films by first-time directors from across the country, whose storytelling offers diverse perspectives.

The Festival will open on May 3 with the Marathi film Sthal (A Match) which won the prestigious NETPAC Award at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.  Directed by Jayant Somalkar, the film presents an uncompromising portrayal of Indian matchmaking. Shot with non-professional actors in the Vidarbha region, a young woman fights for her agency when forced into an arranged marriage.

 Habitat Film Festival Aattam


This will be followed by Atul Sabharwal’s espionage drama Berlin featuring local talent Ishwak Singh along with Aparshakti Khurana in pivotal roles. The Hindi-language drama premiered in India at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2023. Berlin is Sabharwal’s third feature after Aurangzeb (2013) and Class of ’83 (2020). Writer-director Sabharwal’s recent work includes the Critics’ Choice Awards nominated screenplay for the Amazon Prime web series, Jubilee.

This year, the documentary segment at HFF shines a spotlight on 10 captivating documentaries.  They will be screened every festival day at 11 am in the Stein Auditorium, IHC. Headlining the segment is the Sundance-winning documentary, Against the Tide that follows the journey of two fishers and friends from Mumbai’s Koli community pursuing their livelihoods by different means. Directed by Sarvnik Kaur, it is scheduled for screening on May 4th. Sreemoyee Singh’s captivating Berlinale premiere, And, Towards Happy Alleys, offers a poetic storytelling of love for the cinema and poetry of Iran through the lens of the uncompromising daily struggle of Iranian women. It will be screened on May 5 at 11 am.

 Habitat Film Festival Follower


 Habitat Film Festival Mithya


“HFF fosters a culture of collective viewing and sharing for filmmakers, cinephiles and students. The festival programming this year has tried to platform more first-time directors from across the country who are trying to push the envelope. Our collateral calendar has expanded as well, this time turning more towards aspiring filmmakers in the city with workshops in the areas of screenwriting, film producing, investment and pitching, and filmmaking master classes. We are looking to give everyone more reasons to soak in the festival experience, especially emerging talent in the city looking for mentors and industry exposure,”  Vidyun Singh, Creative Head of Programmes at IHC, said.

The festival’s highly anticipated retrospective segment this year presents selected works of influential filmmaker Kumar Shahani (1940-2024), whose passing in February 2024 has left a void in the film world. The retrospective brings together three of his noted works: Char Adhyay (1997), Kasba (1991), and Maya Darpan (1972), his debut feature.

 Habitat Film Festival Against the Tide

Against the Tide

The supplementary programs at HFF feature a one-day screenwriting workshop led by Ashwini Malik, senior mentor of screenwriting from Whistling Woods International, as well as another one-day workshop focused on various facets of film pitching, fundraising, producing, distributing, and festival strategy for independent films. This session is guided by producers and industry insiders including Bauddhayan Mukherji of Little Lamb Films, Sanjay Gulati of Crawling Angel Films, Rahul Merchant of Runaway Luminosity Distribution, and Aseem Chhabra of the New York Indian Film Festival, providing insights for aspiring filmmakers.

A sizable number of directors will be present for post-screening discussions. Among them are Devashish Makhija (Joram), Arjunn Dutta (Deep Fridge), Jeo Baby (Kaathal - The Core), Atul Sabharwal (Berlin), Haobam Paban Kumar (Joseph’s Son),  Dominic Sangma (Rapture), Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan (Kaadhal Enbadhu Podhu Udamai), Utpal Borpujari (The House of Baruas), Lubhdak Chatterjee (Whispers of Fire & Water), Shruthi Sharanyam (B 32 Muthal 44 Vare), Anand Ekarshi (Aattam / The Play), Rajni Basumatary (Gorai Phakhri / Wild Swans), Jayant Digambar Somalkar (Sthal / The Match), Niraj Kumar Mishra (Samanantar), Simi Khongthiang (Ka Chithi / The Letters), Uttam Kamati (Kherwal), Fazil Razak (Thadavu / The Sentence), Rajdeep Paul & Sarmishta Maiti (The Mind Flies), Nirmal Chander (The Lotus and the Swan), Sujay Dahake (Shyamchi Aai), Pranab Aich (Nanda Master'nka Chatasali), Parthajit Baruah (Nellier Kotha), Shonet Anthony Barretto (Avni Ki Kismat), Praveen Arora (Dhai Aakhar), and others.


 Habitat Film Festival Outhouse


An engaging exhibition, showcasing Hindi film posters and memorabilia from the blockbuster decade of the 1970s, in collaboration with the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), will also take place simultaneously from May 3-12 at IHC.

While entry to the festival is free, online registrations through the festival website are required. The registrations are open to the public in phases starting from Monday, April 29th at www.habitatworld.com.

Words Platform Desk
Date 01.05.2024