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Protests fallout: Pune film fest screenings shifted out of FTII

Sit-in: Students staging a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Kalina campus of Mumbai University on Wednesday.

Sit-in: Students staging a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Kalina campus of Mumbai University on Wednesday.  

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Organisers, director cite ‘unavoidable reasons’; students allege denial of free passes

The protests at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune against the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have cast a shadow over the upcoming Pune International Film Festival (PIFF), prompting the organisers to cancel the film screenings and other events scheduled on the FTII campus.

While both PIFF organisers and FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola cited ‘unavoidable reasons’, sources said the recent student protests on a number of issues had led the organisers to shift the venue from FTII to the National Film Archive of India (NFAI)’s Kothrud premises.

The 18th edition of PIFF is to open on Thursday and will continue till January 16. As many as 1,900 entries have been received from 60 countries, of which 191 films are to be screened at the city’s PVR and INOX multiplexes, and NFAI’s Law College Road and Kothrud premises.

Vishal Shinde, deputy director (programmes and films), PIFF, said screenings could not be take place at FTII due to “technical reasons”.

Mr. Kainthola, however, said FTII is still very much part of the film festival and that the institute’s participation through the presence of its alumni in juries and workshops during the course of the festival will not be affected.

Earlier, Jabbar Patel, chairman and director, PIFF, had said that the opening and closing sessions of PIFF was to be held on the FTII premises as the institute is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year. The organisers had planned a number of workshops to be conducted in tandem with the film screenings to honour the institute’s contribution to Indian cinema.

“PIFF had approached us for recommending jury members, awards and workshops. We are very much part of these activities. We have recommended the two FTII alumni who are to be part of the PIFF international jury while FTII chairman B.P. Singh will be receiving the ‘PIFF Distinguished’ award,” Mr. Kainthola said.

While the FTII administration’s decision to nominate its own chairman for the award has raised eyebrows, Mr. Kainthola defended it, saying Mr. Singh is a noted filmmaker in his own right and has solid credentials in a career spanning nearly 40 years.

“Mr. Singh, who is creator of the popular television crime series CID, has featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for his record-breaking single-shot episode of 111 minutes… he is a filmmaker in his own right and not some johnny-come-lately. We have given this award after much consultation,” Mr. Kainthola said.

Meanwhile, students at FTII have alleged that they were not given free passes despite PIFF officials announcing to the press that the 18th edition of the film festival is celebrating film education in India and 60 years of FTII.

“FTII students themselves are not getting free passes despite the institute being an official sponsor of PIFF this time, which contradicts the whole purpose of celebrating film education. Moreover, the FTII director did not consult students before adding FTII as a venue for PIFF screenings,” Rajarshi Majumdar, general secretary of the FTII Students’ Association, said.

Students of FTII have already held two protests against the JNU violence. Thousands participated in a collective march on Tuesday which began at the FTII campus and saw the participation of students from the city’s other prominent educational centres like Savitribai Phule Pune University and Fergusson College.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:02:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/protests-fallout-pune-film-fest-screenings-shifted-out-of-ftii/article30518407.ece

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