I & B ministry yet to provide censor exemption to Anand Patwardhan’s documentary for screening in Kerala fest

The clouds of censorship have hit the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) yet again with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting not yet providing censor exemption to Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Vivek (Reason), which highlights the murders of rationalist scholars by Hindutva extremists. The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the organisers of the festival, have postponed the screening of the documentary to the last day, on the hope of procuring clearance before that.

According to sources in the Academy, the Ministry has not yet denied exemption for the film, but asked for a ‘more detailed synopsis’ of it.

“They have not denied exemption. While exemption was provided to every other film being screened here, they have asked for more details on just this one. We have sent a detailed appeal two days back. This has effectively delayed the screening of the film. The academy is exploring legal options currently,” said the source, on condition of anonymity.

Anand Patwardhan

Anand Patwardhan  

The stipulations

Films screened at festivals do not require a censor certificate but need a censor exemption from the Union Ministry for them to be screened. This is the second time that the IDSFFK is facing censor exemption issues. Before the 2017 edition, the Ministry had denied exemption to three documentary films, dealing with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) protests, the unrest in Kashmir, and on the Rohith Vemula issue. The films were later screened after the Academy approached the Kerala High Court and obtained clearance.

Before the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) of 2016, the Ministry had, in a similar way, denied permission to two films — Ka Bodyscapes by Jayan Cherian and Muhammed by Majid Majidi.

Global acclaim

Anand Patwardhan’s documentary, which is yet to be officially screened at any of the festivals in India, has already won accolades at festivals across the world, with the most notable being the award for the Best Feature-Length Documentary at the 31st International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam.

The four-hour-long film focusses on the attacks on secularism and rationality in recent years across the country, from the work of shadowy organisations like Sanatan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat to the numerous attacks by lynch mobs in the name of the cow and the murders of rationalists and activists. Patwardhan had released parts of it on online platforms. In Kerala too, it was widely screened at small meetings with Malayalam subtitles, earlier this year.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:08:56 PM |

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