BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) winner Jinko Gotoh, who was part of the five-member jury for the International Competition at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Sunday said she and two of her fellow jurors stand by the statement made by jury chairperson Nadav Lapid at the closing ceremony that the The Kashmir Files was a “propaganda” movie.
A statement posted by Gotoh on Twitter said, “At the festival’s closing ceremony, Nadav Lapid, the jury’s president, made a statement on behalf of the jury members stating: ‘We were all of us disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files, that felt to us like a vulgar propaganda movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival.’ We stand by his statement. And to clarify we were not taking a political stance on the film’s content. We were making an artistic statement, and it saddens us greatly to see the festival platform being used for politics and subsequent personal attacks on Nadav. That was never the intention of the jury.”
Besides Gotoh, who is an Oscar-nominated Amerial producer, the statement posted on her twitter handle, was signed by two other jurors of the 53rd IFFI. They were documentary filmmaker, film critic and journalist from France, Javier Angulo Barturen, and French film editor Pascale Chavance. Lapid, Gotoh, Barturen, Chavance and film director Sudipto Sen, who has worked predominantly in Indian cinema, comprised the jury.
When asked why he spoke about a movie that wasn’t selected for an award, Lapid told The Indian Express, “Yes, basically, the jury does not do that. They are supposed to watch movies, savour them, talk about their merits and select winners. But then basically movies like The Kashmir Files shouldn’t be part of the competition section at film festivals. I have been part of the jury in dozens of festivals, including the international ones held in Berlin, Cannes, Locarno and Venice. Never ever have I watched a movie like The Kashmir Files at these festivals. When you show a movie like this to the jury, you force them to behave differently.”
When The Indian Express asked Sen, the only Indian on the International Competition jury, to comment on the statement posted by Gotoh, he said: “I shall not change my statement, whatever I said to you and on other platforms. My comments will remain the same… It is true that the said film was rejected on artistic grounds. But I objected (to) his (Lapid) statement — which was not ‘artistic’. ‘Vulgar’ or ‘Propaganda’ is not any ‘artistic’ statement.”
After Lapid described The Kashmir Files as a “vulgar propaganda movie”, Sen had told the newspaper earlier that Lapid’s statement was in his “personal capacity”. “Nadav went to speak on the stage of the IFFI’s closing ceremony as the jury chairman of the International Competition. However, the statements he made there were done in his personal capacity. Whatever we had to say as part of the Jury Board about the films in competition, we said in the official presentation made to the festival director and other officials on November 27 and later at a press conference,” he said.
Released on March 11 this year, The Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, ran to packed halls across the country but was panned by critics. The film, which was declared tax-free, is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in the 1990s.