By Maya Palit
Lipika Singh Darai, has won the National Award for her 20-minute film The Waterfall. The 33-year-old filmmaker from the Ho tribe in Baripada, Odisha received it for the ‘Best Educational Film’ under the non-feature film category. The film traces the life of a young child from the city who begins to learn more about the Khandadhar waterfall on a visit to his ancestral house in Odisha, and tries to digest how climate change is wreaking havoc in the region.
This is Darai’s fourth National award. She won previously for her films Gaarud (2009), Eka Gachha Eka Mainsha Eka Samudra (2012), and Kankee O Saapo (2013). But two years ago, Darai, an FTII alumnus, returned the awards to express solidarity with the FTII students’ protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of FTII.
Last year, Darai also made a powerful 53-minute documentary entitled Some Stories Around Witches, which examined contemporary witch-hunts, local superstition and myth, and the still-rampant and brutal demonisation of people and children (mostly women, but men as well) as witches in Odisha.
It was based on specific and extremely disturbing case studies of witch-hunt victims, like a group of women who were accused of causing the death of a young man, and subsequently stripped and tied to electric poles by a furious mob. Apparently one of the petitioners for the Prevention of Witch-hunting Act of 2013, Sashiprava Bandhini, had approached Darai with these horror stories and requested her to make a film exploring them in detail.
Watch the trailer for The Waterfall below.