Imphal: Adding yet another feather to her cap, filmmaker Dr Meena Longjam’s ‘Andro Dreams’ won the best documentary in the film category at the 8th edition of the Jagran Film Festival in Mumbai on Sunday.
In her latest film, Dr Longjam, the 2015 national award winner, documented the journey of a girls football club from a remote village in Manipur. The film was edited by Sankhajit Biswas.
Speaking on the win, Dr Meena Longjam says “In the last five months everyone has known the kind of violence that has ravaged the state of Manipur. Now more than before, there is a need for all of us to stand united, a need for peace and reconciliation. I hope my film on the dreams of these football players will resonate with our national audience.”
She further said that “We hope this tale of young girls dreaming big will bring back the spirit of solidarity and sportsmanship, that will bring back the peace the state so desperately needs, that we can unite as we play for team India.”
“I am very proud and happy about the win. This is well-deserved. Last year, I went to Manipur to meet the founder of the AMMA FC football club in person – Laibi. She’s so strong. I love her spirit, her courage in running this club against all odds,” added co-producer Jani Viswanath.
Meena Longjam has won many awards in her decade-long career as a filmmaker – the most notable of which is her 2015 win for the documentary “Autodriver” which showcased the struggles of Imphal’s first female autodriver.
Her films are focused on women’s empowerment. For instance, in her second documentary “Achoubi in Love” which has travelled to over 30 national and international film festivals. She documents her protoganist Achoubi’s fight to save the indigenous Meitei Saigol ponies – ponies that gave rise to the sport of polo.
Even her most recent documentary, Andro Dreams is about the struggles of two brave protoganists – that of Laibi, who is in her 60s and runs a football club AMMA FC, and her most promising young football player Nirmala.
Laibi, who hails from the village of Andro in Manipur, has battled poverty, insurgency and patriarchy to successfully run this girls’ football club for the last 22 years. Despite the lack of funding and proper equipment, this football club has consistently produced many of India’s national and international football champions.
The last five months of violence in Manipur have also meant that director Meena Longjam herself has faced great risks to her life and personal safety to bring this movie “Andro dreams” to our screens.
It was also learnt that the final cut of the film was edited admist the violence.
The film Andro Dreams is currently doing the circuit at domestic and international film festivals. It was selected for the IDS-FFK Festival, Kerala, the Korean International Ethnographic Film Festival and Festival International de dine de Fusagasuga’ 2023.