[Reader-list] CPI-M turns film critic, kills festival ............
pawan.durani at gmail.com
Mon Apr 28 16:37:00 IST 2008
The Govt must have had some valid reason for not allowing a particular
picture. Maybe we need to explore more.
On 4/26/08, Shuddhabrata Sengupta <shuddha at sarai.net> wrote:
> Dear All,
> A text on outlook about our familiar Kolkata Kommissars doing what
> they do best. (it was forwarded by Rahul Roy on the vikalp list, so
> apologies for cross posting to those on Vikalp)
> Shot At Sight
> CPI-M turns film critic, kills festival ............
> Anjali Puri
> A West Bengal government famously intolerant of 'discordant'
> voices—from protesters in Nandigram to Taslima Nasreen and Tibetan
> freedom fighters—has subjected a central government department to an
> extraordinary tantrum over the inclusion of a documentary film on the
> Singur agitation in a festival of Indian Panorama films.
> With graphic footage of lathicharging cops abusing and attacking
> villagers, and interviews with peasants, social activists and
> economists, Ladly Mukhopadhay's 40-minute film, Whose Land is it
> Anyway? is a critique of the Left Front government's acquisition of
> 1,000 acres of land for a Tata small car factory in Singur, and its
> handling of the agitation that followed in 2006-07.
> The Left's cultural commissars woke up late to the documentary's
> inclusion in the film festival.
> The film, cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification in
> December '06, was selected for inclusion in the Indian Panorama by an
> independent jury of filmmakers. It was screened at the International
> Film Festival in Goa last November, along
> with other Panorama films and found mention in press reports.
> For some reason, these events seem to have escaped the attention of
> the Left Front which only appears to have woken up to the film's
> inclusion in the prestigious list when it travelled last month to
> Nandan, the state government's film centre in Calcutta (and a regular
> haunt of film buff-CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya), as part of a festival
> of Indian Panorama films.
> The Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) in Delhi, a wing of the Union
> I&B ministry which organises international and other film festivals,
> (including Whose Land...) sent synopses of all the Panorama films to
> Nandan, in advance of the Calcutta festival.
> Even from a cursory reading of the synopsis, it's pretty clear that
> Whose Land... is far from being a paean for the state government's
> actions in Singur. However, it appears that this, too, went unnoticed
> by the cultural commissars of the Left Front.
> It was only after the screening on March 26 that hell broke loose.
> Nandan took the extraordinary step of "suspending" the rest of the
> festival. And its ceo Nilanjan Chatterjee followed up that very
> afternoon with an officious fax demanding explanations from a startled
> DFF. His phraseology ("I am directed", etc) suggested that he was
> writing at the behest of his political bosses.
> In his fax, Nilanjan took the DFF to task for "the content of a film
> (that) directly violates the ethical principles of centre-state
> relationship". "I am directed to state that it is highly objectionable
> to include such a controversial film in the Indian Panorama package,"
> he stated. "As such," he continued, "I am directed to request you to
> kindly state the reason for the inclusion of such a film in the said
> package". And then came the clincher: "I am further directed to inform
> you that all the screenings earmarked on 27 March, 2008, will remain
> suspended till a satisfactory reply is received from your office."
> By the time the DFF replied with a statement narrating the facts of
> the case, the threat had been executed. Calcutta audiences were
> deprived of watching even Panorama films that did not offend the Left
> Front government—as punishment for watching one that did.
> Shuddhabrata Sengupta
> The Sarai Programme at CSDS
> Raqs Media Collective
> shuddha at sarai.net
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