Schools in the city boast many an Ang Lee and Anurag Kashyap in the making. A film made by members of the Readers' Club at La Martiniere for Boys (LMB) beat 54 entries from all over India to bag the Best Film award in the senior category at the Kolkata International Children's Film Festival in December.
Another film shot by two students of Sailendra Sircar Vidyalaya at Shyambazar won the second prize in the junior section at the festival.
Silent Footsteps, a film on how to overcome socially awkward behaviour, is directed by Arya Ganguli with Aparajito Ganguli and Sagnick Mukherjee , all Class IX students at La Martiniere for Boys, as assistant directors.
"This was the first time we were making a film and were really excited. The topic given to us was My Changing Environment," said Rahul Ghosh, a Class IX student and a member of the LMB Readers' Club who edited the film along with Arya.
The film has no faces, only various pairs of feet with subtitles running across the screen. "The protagonist is a shy boy, a loner who is hesitant to socialise. Since he is looking down all the time, we show only his feet and other people's feet. He does not have the courage to raise his head or look anybody in the eye. The camera is actually the boy's eyes," said Atif Ally Dagman, also a Class IX student and a part of the film's creative team.
The film was shot with a hand-held camera. "We shot on the principal's lawn, the cricket ground and other places in school," smiled Srutarshi Adhikary, a Class X student.
The boys say the award was unexpected. "Here was an idea that seemed to click, which is why we went ahead with it. All of us have a strong background in dramatics. But film-making is totally different, especially the technical aspect. It was a great learning experience," said Samuel Prateek Toppo of Class IX.
Principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi is proud of his boys. "I think they did a remarkable job. Such activities help create a creative vision and a positive frame of mind in children."
Arani Goswami, a Class VII student at Sailendra Sircar Vidyalaya, and his friend Subhadeep Mondal, Class VIII, shot Amake Chhere Jeo Na Mishti, a film on how adults are gradually becoming insensitive to the environment, in between exams. Arani wrote the film and acted in it, too, while Subhadeep stepped into the shoes of editor and director.
Chhhaya Judhyo, a film by Chandra Mouli, a Class XII student at the Shyambazar school, about a child's growing intimacy with a computer in the absence of playmates also impressed judges. So did Green Man 2, a comic take on litterbugs by students at Lakshmipat Singhania Academy.
Students of eight schools were recently awarded for making short films on the city's heritage.
The prize distribution ceremony for Filmit India Festival, presented by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) in collaboration with India International Centre (IIC) was held at Birla High School for Boys. Among the award-winners were Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Apeejay Park Street and Salt Lake, Birla High School for Boys, Delhi Public School Megacity and Modern High School for Girls.