The upcoming edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), in Goa, is has been tipped into chaos following the withdrawal of two films from the Indian Panorama section on the orders of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
Filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh (“Kahaani”), the head selectors (referred to as jurors) for the Indian Panorama section, has resigned in protest. He was followed by fellow jurors, editor and screenwriter Apurva Asrani (“Aligarh”) and Gyan Correa, director of 2015 Oscar contender, “The Good Road”). The powerful Marathi film lobby is considering boycotting the festival unless one of the films, “Nude,” is reinstated.
“Nude”, a sensitive portrayal of a woman who poses for painting students, directed by Ravi Jadhav, was due to open the strand. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Malayalam-language “Sexy Durga” has won a host of international awards, including the Hivos Tiger for best film at Rotterdam. Earlier this year, it ran afoul of the Indian censors and was ultimately cleared with audio cuts under the revised title “S Durga.” Sasidharan has filed a petition with the Kerala High Court challenging the festival’s decision.
No explanation for the films’ withdrawal was offered by the festival, which saw its management transferred a couple of months ago from direct ministry control to the National Film Development Corporation. The NFDC runs film finance schemes and for the past decade has efficiently operated the adjacent Film Bazaar project market. But even the NFDC appears unable to escape the chaos that has plagued IFFI in recent years.
When asked for explanation, the Ministry said that the copy of “Nude” was incomplete. It said that the copy of “S Durga” was an old, uncensored version.
The 43rd edition of IFFI is due to open later this week with Majid Majidi’s India-Iran coproduction “Beyond the Clouds.” With five days to go before the festival, most of the films in the other sections, including the ones in international competition, the Canadian focus and cinema of the world strands are yet to be announced.