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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Bollywood

#TheFord: Marathi-language film 'Killa' wins prestigious Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Festival

A Marathi-language film about the immigrant experience has won the prestigious Cyrstal Bear award for children's cinema at the Berlin Film Festival.

'Killa' (The Fort), directed by Avinash Arun, tells the story of a young Marathi boy and his mother who move to a big city from the countryside in search of work and salvation.  The story explores the impact that such migration has on the lives of a variety of people, in particular the emotional and physical challenges faced by young children.

In its citation for the film, the Festival jury said 'Killa' - the first Indian film to win the award - had "made us all want to discover India".

Whilst much of the attention has been on the selection of Imtiaz Ali's 'Highway' for a Berlin screening, Marathi cinema has emerged triumphant after the success of 'Killa' and the equally well-received 'Fandry'.

Filmmakers across Maharashtra have for many years lived in the shadow of the juggernaut that is Bollywood - located, ironically enough, in the state capital Mumbai. 

The emergence of regional television channels that have the financial clout to buy broadcast rights and, perhaps more importantly, the rise of some talented young filmmakers combined with the growing appetite for independent Indian cinema have contributed to the rapid growth of Marathi cinema. 

'Fandry', Nagraj Manjule's beautiful and haunting exploration of India's caste system, has been doing the rounds of international festivals - from the London Indian Film Festival through the London Film Festival to this year's Berlinale - for some time now.

A slew of other films - often made at a fraction of the budget of a Bollywood blockbuster - have been thrilling audiences in the past few years, including the likes of 'Balak Palak', 'Anumati' and 'Deool'.

'Killa' is expected to get a distribution deal in India on the back of its success in Berlin, according to reports.

As with the success of last year's 'Ship of Theseus' and 'The Lunchbox', it only needs word-of-mouth and the backing of critics, financiers and fans to coalesce for these small yet beautiful films to capture the public's imagination.

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