Ishanou: A Resurrected Masterpiece Returns to Cannes Classics

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The Cannes Film Festival’s Classics section is set to showcase a gem from Manipur’s cinematic history this year. Aribam Syam Sharma’s critically acclaimed film, “Ishanou,” has been selected for screening after 32 years since its debut at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in 1991. This remarkable event marks the triumph of restoration efforts by the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF), in association with the Manipur State Film Development Society.

Directed by the esteemed Aribam Syam Sharma, whose films have garnered numerous National Film Awards, “Ishanou” holds a special place in the hearts of cinephiles. The film, known for its powerful yet simple narrative, delves deep into the cultural essence of Manipur. Despite the challenges posed by a deteriorating 35mm print, the beauty of “Ishanou” transcended the flawed visuals, leaving a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to witness its screening.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, the Director of FHF, recalls the moment he encountered “Ishanou” during a visit to Imphal in April 2021. Attending a screening of the film, he was captivated by its rare 35mm print, despite its visible signs of wear and tear. Determined to restore this cinematic treasure, Dungarpur embarked on a journey to breathe new life into “Ishanou” through meticulous preservation efforts.

The restoration process, which lasted nearly a year, proved to be a learning experience for Aribam Syam Sharma himself. He expressed his gratitude towards the Film Heritage Foundation for selecting “Ishanou” for restoration and meticulously preserving his original vision. The film, treated as a work of art, has been rejuvenated with utmost care, resurrecting it after over three decades of dormancy.

“Ishanou: A Resurrected Masterpiece Returns to Cannes Classics” not only celebrates the revival of a culturally significant Manipuri film but also highlights the invaluable work carried out by organizations like FHF. Their dedication to preserving and restoring cinema allows future generations to appreciate and learn from the rich tapestry of cinematic heritage.

As “Ishanou” graces the Cannes Classics section, it serves as a testament to the power of restoration, breathing new life into forgotten cinematic treasures. Audiences at the festival will have the privilege of witnessing the magic of Manipuri cinema and experiencing the unique cultural narrative that has withstood the test of time.

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