Veyil Marangal (Trees under the Sun), a Malayalam film that portrays the life of a Dalit family hit by floods, has won the ‘Outstanding Artistic Achievement’ award at 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival. This is the first time that an Indian film is winning award at the festival.
Directed by Biju Kumar Damodaran, the film was one among the 3,964 entries submitted from 112 countries in the prestigious Golden Goblet Award competition.
The film’s overall gentleness ultimately leads to a more realistic and optimistic conclusion that involves the dignity and perseverance of the downtrodden but unbeaten family — The Hollywood Reporter
Talking about the award, Biju Kumar said: “This is a big thing for us and for Malayalam cinema at a major international festival. Veyil Marangal focusses on a Dalit family from Kerala which loses everything in a major flood. They migrate to Himachal in search of livelihood at an apple orchard. The film was shot over a duration of one and a half years. It was shot across three different season in Himachal, where the location was mostly around Manali.”
A review in The Hollywood Reporter from its Shanghai premiere says that “the film’s overall gentleness ultimately leads to a more realistic and optimistic conclusion that involves the dignity and perseverance of the downtrodden but unbeaten family.”
For Kumar, this is the second film screened at the festival after Akashathinte Niram (Colour of Sky), which was selected here in 2012. It was also the last Indian film screened at the festival and competed in the same category, before which a film by Bengali filmmaker Gautam Ghose was screened here.
Kumar, who had debuted with the State award-winning Saira in 2007, has over the years made 10 films, many of which have won accolades at film festivals within the country and outside.