IDSFFK 2017: politicians, filmmakers stage protest against I&B Ministry on closing day
The tenth International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) concluded at the state capital Thiruvananthapuram on 20 June with the participants declaring solidarity with the three filmmakers whose films were denied permission to screen at the festival by Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Before the beginning of the valedictory function, the directors and workers of films screened at the festival, Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Issac who inaugurated the meet and other political leaders who spoke at the meet made an impromptu protest on the stage and read a statement supporting the directors of banned films. They said the action of union I & B Ministry is completely arbitrary and a state of cultural emergency exists in India at present. They added that they feel they themselves could have protested more strongly in the issue and shouted slogans against union I & B Ministry. The filmmakers requested the audience also to stand up and express unity with the makers of banned films.
The jury of the festival who announced awards in various categories at the function said the yardsticks for deciding winners were simplicity and artistic vision. Filmmakers need to express their ideas in a simple way to enable people understand it rather than creating complex works. The best animation film award was given to the Hindi film The Fish Curry (Maacher Jhol) by Abhishek Verma. The best campus film award went to the Malayalam film Rooms by Sandeep Unni. In the short fiction category, the award for the best film was given to the Hindi film Grandfather by Amar Kaushik and Assamese film Days of Autumn by Mukul Haloi.
In the non fiction category Long Documentary The Books We Made by Anupama Chandra and Uma Tanuku shared jury’s special mention along with Of Love and Artistry by Suruchi Sharma. The best long documentary award was also shared by two films; Soz: A Ballad of Maladies by Tushar Madhav and Sarvnik Kaur and Nostalgia For The Future by Rohan Shivakumar and Avijit Mukul Kishore won the best long documentary award jointly. Navroze Contractor award for the best cinematographer was given to Ranjan Palit for his work in the film In Praise of that Angel Face .
The jury recommended that the categories of short and long documentary should be merged in the next time as it is illogical.
Earlier inaugurating the valedictory meet, Thomas Isaac said the state will build cultural complexes in all the 14 district capitals at a cost of Rs 40 crore each. Those complexes will have rehearsing rooms, theatres, meeting halls and all other facilities necessary for screening films and performing other art forms. The government will ensure whatever capital required for building infrastructure and promoting cultural activities, he said.
Explaining the reason for the Government policy to focus on promoting cultural activities, Issac said Kerala which has achieved tremendous progress in areas like healthcare, education, per capita income etc is becoming a consumerist society like advanced nations. People are spending huge money for luxury goods and services. Even the middle class people build palatial houses. In the context the government wants to divert the spending habits of the public from consumer items to the cultural area. The proposed cultural complexes which will come up in the near future will provide an area to the people to spend their money productively on cultural products, Issac said.
The minister added that the way forward for socialist ideas is only through cultural activities and this is one of the reasons why the Left Government in Kerala decided to invest in the sector.
Criticising the Union I & B Ministry for the ban on three films, Issac said he himself may not fully agree with what the films say. However, it is important to give them an opportunity to express the reasons for their dissent. Short films and documentaries need less capital and give opportunities to the marginalised sections to express their ideas before the society. It is a form of resistance which is not appreciated by the BJP Government, he said. He added that Kerala government will soon introduce financial support to selected short film and documentary makers.
As many as 210 films in different categories were screened at the festival. Hundreds of cinephiles, mostly youth from different parts of the country participated in the festival. Noted Malayalam filmmaker KP Kumaran was the guest of honour. Thiruvananthapuram corporation Mayor VK Prasanth, district panchayat president VK Madhu, festival artistic director Bina Paul, and executive director Mahesh Panju were present.