What's New - Festival Highs

‘Bulbul Can Sing’ wins Special Mention at Berlinale Generation 14 plus

by Mignonne D’souza


Rima Das’ acclaimed, coming-of-age portrait from Assam makes waves at the German festival.

After flourishing with nine titles at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, India received its first honour with Rima Das’ ‘Bulbul Can Sing’ winning special mention at the Generation 14+ sidebar for youth-oriented films.

Lead actor Arnali Das

With her third independent feature, Das presents yet another gentle and fervent tale of adolescent love and identity. The film follows 15-year-old Bulbul, an exuberant young girl on the cusp of adulthood, and her two friends, Sumu and Bonny. As the three teenagers explore their own identities the film tactfully conveys the tyranny and subjugation that society imposes and undergoes. The 95-minute, Assamese film is strengthened by its candid understanding and strong performances by Arnali Das, Bornila Thakurai and Manoranjan Das. It is produced under Das' Mumbai-based banner, Flying River Films.

Set to break the records set by its precursor, India’s bid to the 2019 Academy award ‘Village Rockstars’ (70 leading film festivals selections and 44 awards), ‘Bulbul Can Sing’ has been destined for honours since its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018. It went on to screen at Busan, won the Golden Gateway Award second year in a row at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, and went on to AFI Fest and the international film festivals of Singapore and Kerala. The film had its European premiere at the 69th Berlinale Generation 14+, a rare selection for the festival, which largely accepts exclusive world premieres.

Announcing the win on social media, Das expressed her joy at the win. “We are humbled and honoured”, she said, posting pictures of her lead actor, Armali Das, and the rest of the team, receiving the award.

Rima Das at the award ceremony

The Generation 14+ selection focuses on films that take young people seriously in their narratives and their cinematic languages. These are told through the eyes of their young protagonists, making their worlds tangible and accessible to the rest of the world. The section’s international Jury — Dutch director Nanouk Leopold, Canadian filmmaker Pascal Plante, and film director and screenwriter Maria Solrun — presented the awards on February 15th.