Students of Christian Mission Secondary School in Dimapur were invited to the North East Zone Cultural Centre for an animation film screening programme and presentation by visiting British animator Tara Douglas. Tara is currently working at the Centre to complete a short animated folktale from Nagaland. She is also Secretary of the Adivasi Arts Trust, an NGO based in London that collaborates with indigenous artists in India for digital media projects. This animation project received a grant for its completion from the State Government of Nagaland (Department of Art and Culture), with a request that young Nagas become involved in the project to gain exposure to new ways of preserving their culture. Tara felt that the 3D software used to animate characters based on traditional wooden sculptures would be too complicated for beginners to learn, but as she was determined to turn the youth on to animation in Nagaland, she felt that screening events would raise awareness of the potential of animation as new tool for artists and storytellers.
Films screened at the event today included “The Tallest Story Competition” collection of animated folktales in various indigenous art styles from tribes of Central India as an example of what could also be done here in the Northeast. To inspire the group Tara also screened “Nopokliba”, the first short animation film from Nagaland made by Meren Imchen, and few short films by international animation masters showing that animation is not limited to commercial cartoons on TV, and that it can be achieved beautifully using all kinds of mediums from cel drawings to cut out puppets and even beads. Students felt shy to share any of their own folktales at the occasion though one student admitted that he knew the Angami story of Man, Tiger and Spirit that has been chosen for the new animation film.
As her fourth week in Nagaland concludes, Tara is convinced that the animation medium can provide a way for young Nagas to contribute to their cultural heritage where ancient traditions are suspended in time and according to one, “monotonous”. Change is inevitable and artists always find new forms and means of communicating through their work so why not animation, when it holds so much appeals to the youth? All the children at the screening event expressed their enjoyment of animation, and it is hoped that on the journey of understanding identity, animated storytelling may one day be an option in Nagaland.