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Indian Films and Foreign Film Festivals: A List

A list of Indian Films that made their mark at Foreign Film Festivals.

Amar Jyoti by V. Shantaram becomes the first Indian film to be screened at the Venice Film Festival. Sant Tukaram by Vishnupant Govind Damle wins the Special Recommendation Award at the Venice Film Festival of 1937.

Neecha Nagar by great Chetan Anand(1915-1997) wins the prestigious Cannes Film Festival ‘Grand Prix’. The inspiration for ‘Neecha Nagar’ was the Russian literary giant Maxim Gorky’s ‘Lower Depths’. While being influenced by Russian literature in its content, the maker’s film craft and technique bore the stamp of socially-conscious Hollywood moviemakers such as Frank Capra, King Vidor and John Huston. A highlight of the film was Pt. Ravi Shankar's debut as a film composer.

Ram Rajya by Vijay Bhatt made in 1943, is premiered in U.S.A. in 1947 at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Cecil B Demelle, makers of historicals and mythologicals movies like Ten Commandments, Sampson and Delilah, writes a personal note to Bhatt, after the screening that says:
"Greetings from one director who is still trying to make good pictures to another director
who will make great ones long after I am gone." The film also has the distinction of probably being the only film seen by Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime. Vijay Bhatt went on to make the classic movie Baiju Bawra (1952), Meena Kumari's first big break and blockbuster.

Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zameen wins a Special Mention at Cannes.

Naaz by S.K. Ojha becomes the first Hindi film to have location work done abroad, in London and Cairo. Boot Polish made under R. K. Films production by Prakash Arora ,wins Special Mention at Cannes Film Festival (1955) and its director is nominated for Golden Palm.

Pather Panchali by Satyajit Ray wins numerous international awards including Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at Kinema Junpo Award (Japan), Best Foreign Film at National Board of Review Award (USA). Best Picture and Best Director at San Francisco International Film Festival. Besides these it gets nominated and wins at various film festivals.

Aparajito (1956) by Satyajit Ray wins Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival (1957)
It also wins Golden Gate Award for Best Director at San Francisco International Film Festival (1958). Satyajit Ray remains the best-known face of the Indian Cinema and his Award trolley would require a separate mention.

Pardesi by K.A. Abbas becomes the first Indo-Soviet co-production . Do Aankhen Barah Haath made by great V. Shantaram wins Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (1958) and Samuel Goldwyn Award at the Golden Globes, USA (1959). Mother India made by Mehboob Khan lost to Federico Fellini’s Night of Cabiria by one vote for the Best Foreign Language film award at the Oscars(1958).

Sujata made by great Bimal Roy is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1960).

Teesri Kasam by Basu Bhattacharya is nomination for Grand Prix at the Moscow Film Festival (1967).

Garam Hawa by M. S. Sathyu is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1974).

Ankur by Shyam Benegal is nominated for Golden Beear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival (1974).

Nishant by Shyam Benegal is nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976).

Mrigaya by Mrinal Sen is nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival (1977).

An Encounter with Faces by Vidhu Vidhu Chopra is nominated for an Academy Award (1979) in Documentary Short Subject category.

Bhanu Athaiya wins an Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work in the film Gandhi (1982). The award is shared with John Mollo. In addition, Ravi Shankar is nominated for Best Original Score category.

Salaam Bombay directed by Mira Nair wins the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival. It  is also nominated at the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film (1988) but loses to Danish film Pelle the Conqueror.

Ek Din Achanak by Mrinal Sen based on the story Ek Din Achanak by Rampada Chowdhury, gets a special mention at the Venice International Film Festival (1989), where Mrinal Sen wins the OCIC Award for the film.

The Terrorist by Santosh Sivan wins Poznan Goat at Ale Kino! - International Young Audience Film Festival and Panorama Jury Prize - Honorable Mention at Sarajevo Film Festival

At Oscars Lagaan lost out to the Bosnian film No Man’s Land for the award of the best foreign film of the year. Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding wins Golden Lion and Laterna Magica Prize at Venice Film Festival. It also wins the British Independent Film Award for the Best Foreign Film.

Ashvin Kumar’s short film Little Terroist is nominated for the Academy Award(2005) for Live Action Short Film.

Three songs by A. R. Rehman are among the fifty-six songs short-listed for the Original Song category at the Oscars. Songs are: “Chan Chan” (Water), “Khalbali” (Rang De Basanti), and “Lukka Chuppi” (Rang De Basanti). The Oscar for Best Original Song went to "I Need To Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth".


  1. These are the comments that were lost when the actual post vanished (thanks to my constant fiddling with the code of the blog). The post had to be republished with a new URL. Managed to retrieve the comments by fiddling with the comment feed.

    I believe, you tried to mention only SOME major ones which made it to international circuits. Almost EACH film of Ray has won tremendous international acclaim.

    Nishant was not only nominated but also won golden palm. you missed out films like antareen, hazaaron khawishein aisi and others which also won several prizes abroad.

    In the year 1976, Shyam Benegal’s Nishant lost out to Martin Scoreses’s Taxi Driver.As, Charles Foster Kane mentioned I have tried to cover only SOME major film’s. In case of Ray, I felt that his achievements at foreign fests are rather well known … that is why I just gave a link to his awards trolley. However, I would certainly be interested in adding any other notable omissions.


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