Ajitpal Singh’s debut Hindi feature ‘Fire In The Mountains’ won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 19th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Ajitpal Singh’s debut Hindi feature ‘Fire In The Mountains’ won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 19th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Filmmaker Ajitpal Singh’s internationally acclaimed debut Hindi feature, Fire In The Mountains, won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 19th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The film, written and directed by him, was the opening film at the festival, held virtually in California from May 20-27.

The opening night screening of Fire In The Mountains was followed by a Q&A session with Singh and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, who was also Singh’s mentor at the Mumbai Mantra-Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in 2012. Ajitpal’s first screenplay, which was selected at the Lab, won the Sundance Grant.

Excited about the win, Singh says, “We always have an audience in mind when we make films, and it’s great to know that the film resonated with viewers in California.”

The 82-minute film is about a mother who toils to save money to build a road in a remote Himalayan village to be able to take her wheelchair-bound son for physiotherapy, but her husband believes that a shamanic ritual (Jagar) is the remedy. The film, starring Vinamrata Rai, Chandan Bisht, and Sonal Jha, along with Harshita Tewari and Mayank Singh Jaira, first-time young actors from Uttarakhand, has won multiple awards.

Fire In The Mountains had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2021. It was the only film selected from south Asia among 10 films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. The film recently won two awards – Silver Lady Harimaguada for Best Film and Best Actor (awarded to Chandan Bisht) at the 20th Las Palmas De Gran Canaria International Film Festival, Spain.

The LPA Film festival Jury stated they were impressed with “the film’s ability to portray contradictions in contemporary India and its dilemma between tradition and modernity with apparent simplicity while expressing its characters’ complexity”. The film was also part of NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India) Screenwriters Lab 2018-19.

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