Dropping of IFFI films: six more jury members write to Smriti Irani

Smriti Irani  

Six members of the Indian Panorama jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017 have formally expressed concern to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry over the exclusion of Ravi Jadhav’s Nude and Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S. Durga from the festival that begins on Monday.

The letter was emailed on Saturday to the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani, with a copy to Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The members of the jury said: “We find it distressing that the two films were removed without any intimation, discussion or recourse to the jury which has the final say, according to the Indian Panorama Regulations.”

The letter points out that following the decision, three members of the jury — including the chairman — have resigned in protest.

The signatories include Ms. Satarupa Sanyal, Mr. Suresh Heblikar, Ms. Gopi Desai, Mr. Sachin Chatte, Ms. Ruchi Narain and Mr. Hari Vishwanath.

“All our written correspondence to DFF [Directorate of Film Festivals] and NFDC [National Film Development Corporation] in the matter went unheeded and there was no response or acknowledgement of the same,” the letter states.

The letter stresses on the necessity of finding a solution to the issue as it has far reaching implications for the sanctity of the system put in place after years of work by the Ministry, DFF and NFDC.

“The jury followed a method laid out by the Indian Panorama Regulations, and only wants the same to be applied when dismissing a unanimous decision that was arrived at with much deliberation,” the letter states. “We are also concerned that this will set a negative image for the very bodies that have worked hard to create a festival and selection that have garnered a respectable standing over the years.”

Film festivals are an important avenue for filmmakers to find a platform to showcase their work and for new important cinematic voices to be found and heard, the six jury members state. They also underline the fact that 13 working filmmakers and film professionals took out 21 days in a row, spent 8-10 hours a day watching the entries to arrive at a final list to be shown to discerning film festival audiences in India and around the world.

The members also point out that Nude and S Durga, are relevant in terms of a larger conversation on gender, as well as on women. “We request you to initiate a conversation so that the remaining [films], which are also extremely worthy of being part of the Indian Panorama, are not forgotten in the midst of this controversy, and that the two films under dispute are also given a fair chance to be viewed in the light that jury has wished them to be,” the letter said.

The signatories also acknowledge in the beginning of the letter that they are honoured to have been invited to be part of the Indian Panorama Jury by the Ministry, the DFF and NFDC: “We admire and support your endeavour to improve and update the system by inviting working film professionals to form the Jury and the DFF and NFDC’s work and commitment to driving Indian artistic cinematic expression all these years.”

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 6:31:41 AM |

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