Manipur film ‘Autodriver’ wins best short documentary award in California

‘Autodriver’, a documentary on a woman auto rickshaw driver from Imphal, has won the best documentary award at California-based Women’s Voices Now Film Festival.

The 30-minute documentary, by filmmaker Meena Longjam, has won the best short documentary in the audience choice category at the California-based Women’s Voices Now Film Festival, an organization that advocates women’s rights through films.

Longjam’s documentary, which was screened online on March 8 on the occasion of International Women’s Day in California, was open for online voting.

“I am completely head-over-heels winning this audience choice award for Women’s Voices Now film festival. I am amazed thinking I had mapped a story from one of the remotest corner of the world and it’s absolutely empowering…a story that has been able to connect all,” Longjam said.

The film tells the story of Laibi, a woman auto driver based in the conflict torn Imphal city. In order to support an ailing husband and education of her two sons, she took up this profession defying a traditional society. Starting off as a daily wage labourer in a brick kiln where she used to earn a mere Rs 60 for loading 1,000 bricks; she now has to face the discrimination of passengers who shun lady auto drivers.

The film also portrays how daily wage earner like Laibi’s livelihood is severely affected by the frequent bandhs in the state of Manipur, Longjam said.

‘Auto Driver’, which has won the national award in 2015 for ‘best social issue’, was screened at several prestigious national and international film festivals including Dhaka International film festival, Kolkata International film festival and Kathmandu International Mountain film festival among others.

Two other Indian entries – ‘Leeches’ by Payal Sethi and ‘Memory of a Heart’ by Tribeny Rai – won ‘narrative short’ and audience choice experimental film awards.

Altogether 36 films participated in the festival.

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