Naga folktales are acquiring new dimensions at the North East Zone Culture Centre in Nagaland. Stories that have belonged to the oral tradition are now becoming animated with high end 3D software, used to create a virtual world that is colored by indigenous Naga textiles projected onto computer generated topography, and inhabited by characters inspired by Naga wooden sculptures. The project, called “Tales of the Tribes”, uses media technology as a tool to preserve minority cultures and make ancient traditions accessible to the young generation, and in Nagaland this has become a collaborative venture by the UK based Adivasi Arts Trust, the Nagaland State Government and the North East Zone Culture Centre.
Tara Douglas, British animator and Secretary of the Trust is directing the project. She has come to Nagaland from Delhi with her 3D computer workstation and she is presently based at NEZCC in Dimapur. Tara is eager to involve Naga youth in the project, and to raise awareness about animation as a tool to preserve culture. On Thursday 21 July students of the Eastern Academy Secondary School in Dimapur were invited for a screening event and presentation at the Cultural Centre. The programme began with a film screening of “The Tallest Story Competition”, a collection of five animated folktales from tribes of Central India that was produced in 2006 by Scottish based West Highland Animation. In the programme, the five short films are competing for the best story. The Northeast region of India was not represented in this first series of films and “Tales of the Tribes” is set to change this, with four of the five films originating from folktales from Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. With support from the forward thinking Department of Art and Culture in the State Government of Nagaland, the short film from Nagaland is taking shape in a drama between three characters – Man, Tiger and Spirit - who are brothers in Angami Naga folklore.
It is hoped that youth in Nagaland, with limited exposure or opportunities in the volatile region may get inspired by this initiative started by Tara, who encourages them to look towards their own Naga traditions for content for creative projects. “We are looking to develop new styles for animation that will resonate with people over here, so I urge you not to copy the cartoons you see on TV. Disney and Manga has already been done, let us look at Naga culture to find a new style for animation films”, she told the group of students.