Beginning with the breathtaking opening shot, filmmaker Haobam Paban Kumar introduces us to a unique culture on a scale that is both intimate and panoramic. In the state of Manipur in northern India, families of fisherman live on small islands of biomass called phumdis floating on Lake Loktak. In 2011, citing pollution concerns, government authorities forcibly displaced inhabitants and burned their homes.
Using the incident as his inspiration, Kumar has created a Medium Cool-like docudrama filmed on Loktak with non-professional actors. In one moving scene, the women of the village gather together with their small children to decry their husbands’ apathy in the face of the imminent destruction of their community. But when one of the men finds a gun on a phumdi, things go from bad to worse.
The performers’ presentational delivery, the fiction/non-fiction hybridity, and the subtle presence of the supernatural in LADY OF THE LAKE evokes the experimentations of Werner Herzog and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In spite of the film’s quietude, audiences are certain to find it startling, compelling and unforgettable.
- Haobam Paban Kumar
Haobam came to prominence with the film AFSPA 1958, winning the Jury and FIPRESCI award at the 9th MIFF 2006. The film also won the Swarna Kamal for Best Documentary at the 56th National Film Awards in 2008. LADY OF THE LAKE is his debut fiction feature film.