The eighth edition of the SiGNS film festival, organised by the Federation of Film Societies of India - Keralam, came to a close at the Town Hall in Kochi here on Sunday evening.

The festival focused on documentaries and short films in video format. The top prize for best documentary at the festival went to ‘Candles in the Wind’ by Kavita Bahl and Nandan Saxena. The prize for best fiction film went to director Umesh Kulkarni’s Makhi, festival organisers said. The Cinema Experimenta award for best experimental attempt went to ‘Aisa Nahi Hua Tha Tahira’ by Rajula Shah. The John Abraham National Award went to this year’s State award winning film ‘Cr. No. 89’ directed by Sudevan.

Four films also received special mention awards from the jury. These were ‘Thutse Kyume’ by Takapa Karma, Kashmiri film ‘Shepherds of Paradise’ by Raja Shabir Khan, ‘A Dream Animal’ by Sanyukta Sharma, and ‘…And the Unclaimed’ by Debalina. Majority of the awards at the festival went to women filmmakers.

Minister for Excise and Ports K. Babu inaugurated the closing ceremony. Artist Surendran Nair was the guest of honour at the concluding ceremony. Various filmmakers, artists, film enthusiasts and students were part of the function.

The State-level festival was held in Kochi this time over a period of five days. Nearly 160 films were screened at the two venues at Town Hall and Children’s Park Auditorium during the festival. Festival organisers noted that the response to the festival had been poor in Kochi compared to its previous editions. Hardcore film buffs in the city, however, turned up dutifully to catch the movies. “We used to watch more things when we had fewer things to see,” said filmmaker and festival jury chairperson Madhusree Dutta. “People have this idea in their heads that documentaries are boring. They’re not. Especially with lots of young filmmakers coming in these days, there is a lot of experimentation and audiences are also more sophisticated,” she said.

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