The future screening of Satyajit Ray's keenly-anticipated film Sikkim at the 16th Kolkata Film Festival was blocked a few hours after its first-ever public showing in one of the venues of the festival here on Thursday afternoon. An ad interim injunction order from a court in Gangtok directed the authorities not to screen the film

“As of now future screening of Sikkim at the festival, scheduled to begin tomorrow [Friday] to November 17 [Wednesday] has been stopped,” festival director Nilanjan Chatterjee told a press conference.

“But today [on Thursday], with its first screening, we created history in India. For a long time, it was banned.”

Sikkim had been commissioned by the Chogyal of Sikkim and shot by Ray in the early 1970s.

The court order comes in the wake of the Art and Culture Trust (ACT) of Sikkim moving the District and Sessions court in Gangtok stating that the screening was “illegal” and an “infringement of copyright.”

ACT managing trustee Ugyen Chopal told The Hindu over telephone that the trust got the film rights from the family of the Chogyal of Sikkim in 2000, and it sent for restoration two years later to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Science, United States.“What is being screened is obviously a pirated print. The 35 mm celluloid print reached me in September following its restoration, and we are the only ones to possess it,” Mr. Chopal alleged.

On the copyright issue of Sikkim, Mr. Chatterjee said: “That is the bone of contention.” The festival authorities also do not have proof that ACT of Sikkim holds the copyright, he added.Legal experts of the West Bengal government are reviewing the matter.

No reason to stop its screening has been given in the court's ad interim injunction order. Mr. Chatterjee said “the [Gangtok] court's decision is not final and West Bengal will contest it.”