A snapshot from Joseph's Son

Haobam Paban Kumar’s third narrative feature in Manipuri language, ‘Joseph’s Son’, is again in the limelight after being nominated among 14 films for the Alternativa Film Awards 2023 in Kazakhstan.

The winners will be announced at the inaugural awards ceremony on December 2, at Almaty in Kazakhstan.

The Alternativa Film Awards are an integral part of the Alternativa Film Project, driven by global tech company Drive in Kazakhstan. Each film was meticulously selected by a committee of experts, including festival curators, film critics, directors, producers, and cultural journalists from Asia.

The Alternativa Film Awards place equal importance on each accolade, with each category carrying a cash prize of $20,000. The categories are Future Voice, Spotlight, Alter, Nativa, and Short Awards, recognizing directors set to significantly impact the film industry and society, highlighting crucial overlooked topics, addressing pressing social issues, and celebrating films exploring national or cultural identity.

The Alternativa Film Awards present an alternative system for recognizing professionals from different countries and provide a platform for the exchange of experience. It honors films that bring change to the world and society while appealing to a wide audience. Its mission is to find brave, new, and unheard voices and amplify them on a global scale, to support filmmakers who need it most by providing resources and networking within the international community, and to strengthen the ties between cinema and social change.

Haobam Paban Kumar’s ‘Joseph’s Son’ had its world premiere at the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival in the main competition section held in June 2023. The film is produced by the National Film Development Corporation and co-produced by Oli Pictures, Imphal.

The main protagonist is Guru Rewben Mashangva. The film is in Manipuri, consisting of the different languages of Tangkhul, Meitei, Thadou Kuki, and Rongmei. There are different characters, like Tangkhul, Meitei, Thadou Kuki, Rongmei, and Bihari, from different communities in the film.

The film is very relevant to the present crisis of ethnic clashes in Manipur. Joseph, a musician, reluctantly sets out on the long journey to look for his missing son. As he travels, his fear grows deeper: a fear born of constant conflict—past and present—to which a personal fear is added.

Paban Kumar said: “As a storyteller, it’s very important that my films reflect my contemporary realities. Manipur is home to 35 different tribes and sub-tribes, each with its own language, culture, and traditions. Today, there is huge unrest in Manipur between the various ethnic groups fighting for their identity, land, and forests. This is a story about the fear and uncertainty of people living in places torn by decades of insurgency and ethnic division.”

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