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Freedom Center bestows OTR Film Festival's inaugural Freedom Award

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,

Kripal Kalita’s Bridge recognized for community impact and artistic excellence

CINCINNATI – This evening, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center awarded the OTR International Film Festival’s inaugural Freedom Award to Bridge, a film by Kripal Kalita. The award recognizes films that capture the broader notions of freedom and leaves viewers with a deeper understanding of and renewed commitment to equity and diversity.

Based on real life interactions, Bridge tells the story of Jonaki, a young woman from the Assam region in northeast India on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. The region is ravaged each year by heavy floods, affecting the livelihoods of the people who live there, destroying homes, crops, sources of income and taking the lives of loved ones. The remoteness of the region makes the area isolated from the rest of the world and deprives residents of basic needs like proper education, healthcare facilities and infrastructure. The lack of development and the disinterest of governments and organizations to address the basic needs of Jonaki and her community forces her and her neighbors to watch as their lives are literally swept away each year. Despite their struggles, residents of this region start over each year with a ray of hope in the green valley of a river they love.

“In a field of outstanding submissions, we were struck by the power and artistry of Mr. Kalita’s film as it addresses issues of unfreedom including poverty, systemic neglect, lack of access to healthcare and resource inequity. Yet, through these challenges shines the resilience of hope and the perseverance of people seeking the simple freedom to build a life without fear of hunger, illness or homelessness,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Freedom comes in many forms and is not one thing to all people. We need the visceral, vivid expressions of freedom that films like Bridge present so people can see and to some extent feel the experiences of other people through their eyes and, in doing so, develop a better understanding and deeper empathy.”

The Freedom Award will be presented annually by the Freedom Center to a film that addresses the issues of freedom – and unfreedom – in its many forms. The award will recognize artistic excellence and community impact, with additional consideration given to those films that amplify voices and highlight perspectives that have been traditionally silenced or that address topics and causes related to systemic issues of freedom and unfreedom.

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