Namrata Joshi MUMBAI,

Directors request Information and Broadcasting Ministry to reconsider decision to deny exemption certificate
At the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017, the members of the Indian Panorama selection jury took on the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for the exclusion of two films, Nude and S Durga , from the final line-up.

Now it is the turn of the selection committee members of the national competition section at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF 2018) for documentaries, shorts and animation to register their protest against the exclusion of In the Shade of the Fallen Chinar directed by Fazil N.C. and Shawn Sebastian.

The film features in the festival’s brochure and was scheduled for public screening on January 29, 2018, but wasn’t eventually shown.

A joint statement signed by nine of the 12 members stated: “We stand in solidarity with the filmmakers and strongly condemn this act of censorship.” The signatories include filmmakers Anupama Srinivasan, Priyanka Chhabra, Gautam Sonti, Amudhan R.P., Sudarshan Juyal, Rani Day Burra, Sandhya Kumar, Yapangnaro Longkumer and film writer and critic Shoma Chatterjee.

No public screening

When contacted, festival director Manish Desai said the 16-minute short documentary continues to officially be a part of the competition but cannot be screened publicly under the provisions stipulated in the Cinematograph Act.

For a public screening it has to have either a censor certificate or an exemption from the Ministry. “If certified we are open to screening it any time till the closing ceremony,” said Mr. Desai.

The film has been denied exemption for MIFF by the Ministry but reportedly without giving any clear reason.

The documentary was also denied exemption for International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) last year. The film has since been uploaded on YouTube and has over 1 lakh views.

On Friday, a protest was held outside the Films Division building. The MIFF director has forwarded three appeals — from the selection committee, the film directors and the delegates — to the Ministry requesting reconsideration, along with his own letter of appeal.

Soothing touch

According to selection committee member, Anupama Srinivasan, the film is all about a space for arts for the young people of the Valley. It pitches the soothing touch of art against the turmoil. “On what basis are they stopping its screening?” wondered Ms. Srinivasan, conjecturing that it could be because of the “Azaadi” chants at the beginning of the film.

The biennial festival, organised by the Films Division of the I&B Ministry, kicked off on January 28 and will come to a close on Saturday.