Announcing our 2024 DocedgeKolkata Bursary Winner

It’s been another great year at DocedgeKolkata, the annual documentary incubation and pitching forum for Indian and Asian filmmakers that is dedicated to the intensive development of creative storytelling skills and the creation of international co-production opportunities.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s winner of the Whickers Docedge Bursary Award of £3,000 plus mentoring is Akshat Nauriyal for his project How sweet does the honey taste?

How Sweet Does Honey Taste? tells the story of poet and activist, Irom Sharmila who held the world’s longest hunger strike for 16 years against India’s ’Armed Forses Special Powers’ Act (1958) AFSPA, only to be abandoned by the very people she fought for. Was it worth it? This intimate portrait of Sharmila and Desmond, the husband she met during the protest, explores the human cost of a life of protest leaving the viewer questioning the meaning of victory, and how far they would be willing to go in the pursuit of social justice.

Akshat Nauriyal is an independent filmmaker and media artist from New Delhi, India. His works spans film, installation, immersive interactive media and public art, with human centred storytelling and social impact at its core. Akshat’s work has featured on Al Jazeera, Vice, The Guardian, The BBC and El Pais amongst others. In 2012 he founded one of India’s earliest web-based documentary platforms called Now Delhi. The website showcased short films on emerging subcultures ignored by mainstream media. Now Delhi then transformed into a creative studio and has since produced audio-visual content and immersive media for broadcast, cultural institutions and agencies. Akshat is also a Co-founder of the St+art India Foundation, India’s leading Urban Arts platform. He was their Content Director from 2014 to 2021. He has also curated exhibits for the Google Culture Lab.

Akshat Nauriyal’s immediate reaction to the announcement in Kolkata on Sunday 10th March was “I’m gobsmacked”. After The Whickers’ Editorial Consultant, Jane Mote, made the announcement at a prestigious awards ceremony hosted by Docedge 2024, Akshat added that the Whickers’ Bursary funds  “Will be essential to develop the project forward, and news of this award will hopefully be the catalyst to align the right partners to amplify Sharmila’s remarkable story”.

Jane Mote, Consultant Editor of The Whickers said that the “Unique access that only this Director can provide is something the Whickers seeks out.” This and the strength of Akshat’s pitch in front of an elite panel of international industry experts eventually made it clear that he was the worthy winner in a strong line up. Jane continued by adding that “Our winning project delivers on all The Whickers’ criteria with key being the Director winning the trust of an extraordinary activist behind the ‘Iron Lady’ headlines  whose version of events and life now has never been revealed until now. Sharmila is speaking for the first time about a story that is urgent as so many of us face injustices and turmoil in our countries. This bursary will hopefully support this project to dig deeper to see how the protagonist is reflecting on today’s dilemmas.

Akshat’s win follows a prestigious line up of previous Docedge bursary winners including Ha Le Diem’s award winning Children of the Mist and Vikram Singh’s Camels Of The Sea.

We also wish to extend our congratulations to the other award winners at this year’s Docedge Kolkata