National Film Awards

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The National Awards for films were started in 1954 , as an annual incentive by the Government of India , for the making of artistic, competent and meaningful films. It is administered, along with the International Film Festival of India and the Indian Panorama, by the Indian government's Directorate of Film Festivals since 1973. The awards are given in three sections Feature Films, Non-Feature Films and Best Writing on Cinema. The juries are appointed by the Directorate of Film Festivals in India. Neither the Government nor the Directorate have influence over which films are selected for consideration and which films ultimately win awards. National Awards encourages good films in all languages throughout the entire Indian spectrum and also awards documentaries, whether short or full length, in different categories. In India it is estimated that films are made in twenty languages and dialects.

There is a direct requirement for the makers of a film, and particularly the director, to be Indian nationals. Films entering the competition should be produced in India, and in case of co-production involving a foreign entity, there are some conditions which should be fulfilled in order for the film to qualify. According to the criteria, in order to be eligible for consideration of the jury, a film should be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification . Whether a film is considered a feature film or a non-feature film shall be decided by the Feature Film jury. The eligibility list includes a section of rules determining which films shall not by eligible for entry in the competition.

All the award winners are awarded with a Medallion, cash prize and a certificate of merit. Six categories from Feature Films section (Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, Best Children's Film, Best First Film of a Director, Best Animated Film), two from Non-Feature Films (Best Non-Feature Film ,Best Director) and Best Writing on Cinema sections (Best Book on Cinema, Best Film Critic ) each have been made eligible for Swarna Kamal and rest of the categories for Rajat Kamal. The National Awards along with cinema's highest honour, Dada Saheb Phalke Awards , are presented by the President of India in a solemn function in the presence of the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Chairpersons of the three juries, representatives of Film Federation of India and Confederation of All India Cine Employees and senior official. This is followed by the inauguration of the National Film Festival, where the award-winning films are screened for the public.

These Awards were initially called “State Awards” and had started off in a small way, with two President’s Gold Medals, two certificates of merit and silver medals for a dozen regional films. For the first six years, it was the practice to give the regional best award to the national best film itself. Later, a medal or certificate of merit was given to two or three films in each language. Separate awards for artistes and technicians were instituted in 1968 for the films of 1967, Nargis Dutt and Uttam Kumar being the first actress and actor to get them. For some time, these were called Urvashi and Bharat Awards but the names of the Awards were later changed.

National Awards aim at encouraging the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance contributing to the understanding and appreciation of cultures of different regions of the country in cinematic form and thereby also promoting integration and unity of the nation. The awards also aim at encouraging the study and appreciation of cinema as an art form and dissemination of information and critical appreciation of this art form through publication of books, articles, reviews etc.

SOURCE : Directorate of Film Festivals

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