Filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh resigned as the head of the jury of IFFI's Indian Panorama section over the exclusion of two films from the final selection that has kicked up a storm and which also led one of the filmmakers to move a court today challenging the Centre's decision.
Overruling the recommendation of the 13-member jury, the Information and Broadcasting ministry pulled out Malayalam movie "S Durga" and Marathi film "Nude" from the 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) to be held in Goa from November 20 to 28.
Ghosh replied in the affirmative when asked if he had resigned as jury head in the wake of the controversy over the two films being excluded in the final selection.
"Yes, but I can't say anything more than that right now," he told PTI.
Several jury members expressed their displeasure over the ministry's move to drop the films from the list they submitted, calling it "disappointing and sad".
The jury submitted its list to the ministry on September 20-21, but the line-up was made public only recently and without the name of the two films.
According to sources in the know, the ministry objected because the film that was supposed to be screened at IFFI was "Sexy Durga" and not "S Durga", the version cleared by the censor board.
The sources added that "Nude" could not make the cut as the submission was "technically incomplete".
"S Durga" director Sanan Kumar Sasidharan filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court challenging the decision of the ministry.
"I want the ministry to go by the rule and not overlook the jury's decision. They should behave like a democracy, not a dictatorship," Sasidharan told PTI.
He said he wanted the ministry to implement the jury's decision and include films in the final list.
The decision of the Centre has irked many with Marathi filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni claiming that the makers of National Award-winning film "Kaasav" may withdraw their film from the Panorama feature film section.
"...Sumitra Bhave, the director of kasav, the film which got the President's gold medal for best feature film, is going to withdraw her film from panorama and she won't attend the festival..in support of the protest against the unjust decision by I and B ministry," Kulkarni posted on his Facebook page.
Kulkarni appealed to Marathi directors whose films are are part of IFFI Panorama to take a stand. "The freedom to express is non-negotiable," he said.
Sunil Sukthankar, the co-director of "Kaasav", however, said they were yet to take a decision on withdrawing the film.
"We are thinking about it. We are in agreement with some kind of protest but this decision lies with the producer. We will take an official call by tomorrow," he told PTI.
Film director Ruchi Narain, a member of the jury, said she respected Ghosh's decision to resign.
"I was dismayed by the exclusion of two highly recommended films. It was disappointing that they were just taken off. We sat for three weeks and watched 153 films before making the list," Narain told PTI.
She said the jury included only those films it thought were worthy of cinematic contribution.
Her colleague in the jury, actor-filmmaker Satarupa Sanyal, said the chairman should have been informed about the decision to drop the two films.
"These films were selected after 21 days of deliberations. I think there must be a protocol to inform the jury chairman of the decision. 'Nude' was a fantastic film and was liked by the jury unanimously," Sanyal said.
In a world class film festival films with adult themes should be there, she added.
It was an unprecedented move, a jury member said on the condition of anonymity.
Congress leader Manish Tiwari, who was the I & B minister in the previous UPA governement, said the interference with the jury decisions by the Ministry is "a new low".
"PREPOSTEROUS - that I&B Ministry got two Films dropped from IFFI2017. Interference with Jury decisions a new LOW. When Ministry tasked with defending freedom of speech and expression becomes its SLAYER it is time for the creative community to revolt against this CRUDE censorship," he said on Twitter.
"S Durga", which was earlier titled "Sexy Durga", is a road movie that follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men. It won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.
"Nude" depicts the struggle of a woman secretly working as a nude model in Mumbai.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)