Supriyo Sen's 'Wagah' wins award at Berlin film fest

Berlin, Feb 9 (IANS) Indian filmmaker Supriyo Sen's 10-minute short film "Wagah" has won the sixth Berlin Today Award at a parallel initiative held at the ongoing 59th Berlin International Film Festival.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier while announcing the award Sunday said that "Wagah" was "a convincing manifesto against any wall that divides people".

Sen's documentary is about the ritual that takes place at the frontier post along the border between India and Pakistan and it was screened here along with four other films also short-listed for the top prize.

"Wagah" completes the trilogy for the two time National Award winning director who has been exploring the story of the partition of India for almost a decade.

Sen's previous two films are "Way Back Home" and "Hope Dies Last in War", which has won the prestigious Sundance Documentary Grant and the Pusan International Film Festival's Asian Network of Documentary Award in the past.

"Hope Dies Last in War" explored the tragedy of 54 families who believed that members of their family are still languishing in Pakistani jails as prisoners after the 1971 India-Pakistan war and their fight for freedom without help from authorities of both countries.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this year, the theme of the competition was "My Wall".

Five short films from different parts of the world, each a maximum of 10 minutes in length, were funded by a German production company with support from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the Federal Foreign Office.

Festival Director Dieter Kosslick and Campus Programme Manager Matthijs Wouter Knol opened this year's Berlinale Talent Campus before an invited audience of 600 to introduce 350 talented filmmakers from 106 countries to exchange views with international experts and to network amongst themselves.

Directors and screen-writers Sir David Hare ("The Reader") and Daniela Thomas ("O Primeiro Dia") as well as composer Max Richter, mentor of the Volkswagen Score Competition, welcomed this year's participants, partners and guests.

The evening culminated in the world premiere of the five short films short-listed for the Berlin Today Award 2009.

Apart from Sen's "Wagah", producer Anna Wendt's documentary "My Super Sea Wall", which shows the struggle for survival of 375 inhabitants on the Alaskan island Kivalina, received honourable mention.

"Director Gina Abatemarco tells a universal story in a nutshell, and in a very moving way," said Wim Wenders, who, along with directors Emily Atef and Andreas Dresen formed the jury of this year's Berlin Today Award.

The public screening of the Berlin Today Award short films begins here Feb 15 while the world tour sponsored by the Goethe-Institut and Deutsche Welle, the German broadcasting house, is expected to commence at a later date.

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