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The NiF Film Awards 2019 were announced at the 6th edition of the Nature inFocus Festival on 3 August in Bangalore. 

The Awards invited entries from both professional and emerging filmmakers – under separate categories. Both the Professional and Emerging Talent categories have two sub-categories – Natural History and Conservation. While the Emerging Talent category was only open to Indian participants, the Professional category was open to participants from all over the world. 

The winners this year were chosen by a 7-member jury comprising of Rita Banerji, Founder-Director at Dusty Foot Productions; Gautam Pandey, Director at Riverbank Studios; Akanksha Sood Singh, a Natural History Filmmaker; Raghu Chundawat, a Conservation Biologist; Joanna Van Gruisen, a Wildlife Filmmaker and Manish Mundra, the Founder of Drishyam Films. The jury curator is Sara, a Wildlife Filmmaker and a member of the NiF Advisory Board.

Scroll down to see all the category winners and special mentions.

The Boy Who Saw More – Pankaj Singh & Shaktiraj Jadeja 

Winner – Professional (Conservation)

‘The Boy Who Saw More’ follows Nordan, a Ladakhi teenager, as he explores his homeland. Although Ladakh is revered for her majestic mountains, great blue lakes and mighty rivers, Nordan shows us that there is more. That in places and spaces we often overlook, there are stories unfolding, just as incredible as the big wonders. In this adventure, he urges us to turn our gaze towards the small things. 

Produced by Faraway Collective

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The Last Hop(e) – Dheeraj Aithal & Pradeep Hegde

Special Mention – Professional (Conservation)

India is a country where traditionally the common man has lived in harmony with the natural environment. But in the past few decades, modernisation and unplanned urbanisation have spread their roots; forests are shrinking and wildlife is constantly subjected to an onslaught of mindless developmental activities. In such a scenario what is the fate of an animal that has been omnipresent in the fabric of Indian society - the frog? Is it the last hop for these frogs or will the common man reconnect with the natural world to usher in some lasting hope?

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Coral Woman – Priya Thuvassery

Special Mention – Professional (Conservation)

'Coral Woman' is a filmmaker's journey with 53-year-old Uma, a certified scuba diver, exploring the underwater world & the threat to coral reefs of Gulf of Mannar, India. Born in a traditional family in Tamil Nadu, Uma, a homemaker, has been trying to bring attention to this alarming environmental issue through her paintings. It is, in fact, these corals that inspired Uma to learn how to swim, dive and paint in her 50s.

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Treasures of Grasslands – Mihir Godbole & Vishwatej Pawar

Winner – Professional (Natural History)

A chance spotting of a pack of Indian Wolves in 2009 paved the way for the filmmakers to know more about this elusive grassland predator. Over the course of the next decade, they scourged these grasslands for all signs of life and interacted extensively with the nomadic Dhangar community to understand the ecosystem. What they found was simply staggering. There are more than 350 species of birds and 25+ species of mammals in the unprotected grasslands of Maharashtra, India. This film was created with the sole aim of creating awareness about this astonishing wildlife diversity that thrives just 30 minutes away from one of India's largest cities, Pune, and also the various threats that endanger this fragile wonderland.

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Daroji – Sugandhi Gadadhar & Raghunath R Belur

Special Mention – Professional (Natural History)

Daroji is a short film for children, introducing them to wildlife, specifically those from in and around Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Karnataka, India. In the film, Bindu, a female Indian Sloth Bear, tells the story of different families, including her own, and shares a friendly note with her audience, suggesting that man and animal can co-exist in harmony.

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The Wetland's Wail – Aravind Mohanraaj & Cibi

Winner – Emerging Talent (Conservation)

Wetlands are shrinking everyday due to anthropogenic interventions. This film is an attempt to manifest the importance of wetlands and their conservation by rethinking the idea of 'development'.

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Dampa Hmathlir: Thinking About the Future – Gaurab Talukdar & Lalvohbika Hrahsel

Special Mention – Emerging Talent (Conservation)

The buffer zone around a part of Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is surrounded by oil palm plantations. Promoted by the government claiming assured economic viability, farmers took up these plantations only to realize that in a couple of years water availability was affected, the soil had lost its vitality, and the rich biodiversity of the area was under threat. Farmers are now looking at new options for cultivation in the hope of saving their lands and their livelihoods. The film was made as a part of the Green Hub Fellowship, 2018-2019. 

Produced by Green Hub (NEN-DFP) & Dampa Tiger Reserve

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#SaveTheDugong – Pooja Gupta

Special Mention – Emerging Talent (Conservation)

The dugong is one of the most endangered marine mammals in Indian waters today. Being elusive and inhabiting remote or often turbid waters adds to the mysteriousness of these mammals. This film gives an insight into the lives of a small isolated population of dugongs in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. This was made possible through a decade-long research programme. It highlights the present status of the animal, its habitat and suggests simple ways that can contribute towards its well being. 

Produced by Nature Conservation Foundation, EARTH CoLab, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest Department

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The Bird Who Never Gave Up – Hardik Rathod

Winner – Emerging Talent (Natural History)

The filmmaker spent over 18 months to document and record the lifecycle of a Coppersmith Barbet. In this short film, he showcases all the ups and downs in the life of this bird.

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The Bengal Canid – Prasenjit Choudhury

Special Mention – Emerging Talent (Natural History)

When the sun goes down, the Chota Nagpur plateau wakes up with the howls of a resident of the grasslands, the Bengal Fox. Grasslands are rapidly being converted into agricultural land, destroying the natural environment of these wild canids. Yet, they have adapted to survive and breed in these disturbed spaces.

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Noor: The Queen of Ranthambore – Porus Khareghat

Special Mention – Emerging Talent (Natural History)

The filmmaker attempts to blend in 'The Tyger' by William Blake with visuals of the tigress Noor and her three daughters. He has shot the entire film in slow motion to enhance the movement of every muscle and capture different expressions of the predator and prey.

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Enter The Dragon – Ravi Shankar

Winner – Mobile Moments

Komodo Island in Indonesia is where one can see real-life dragons in their natural habitat. With the help of a forest official, the filmmaker successfully managed to get a unique perspective of a male Komodo Dragon nonchalantly walking into his frame, all with an iPhone!

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Tusker Tornado – Tapan Sheth

Special Mention – Mobile Moments

While the filmmaker was out on a safari in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, he came across a huge male elephant. The elephant was feeding and mud bathing and wandered quite close to the vehicle, and at one point gave them a warning in its signature style. 

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Mother Of Mine – Mahendra Jain

Special Mention – Mobile Moments

This short film pertains to a territorial fight documented in Ranthambhore – between a tigress called Noor and one of her daughters, Sultana. While it was expected that the daughters of Noor would have grown up and created their own territories, things took a different turn.

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Nature inFocus thanks all its sponsors and partners for making the NiF Film Awards 2019 a grand success.

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