SIX members of the Indian Panorama Jury for International Film Festival of Indian (IFFI), Goa, have written to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, voicing concern regarding “the issue of the exclusion of feature films Nude, directed by Ravi Jadhav, and S Durga, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan”, from the selection.
The jury members requested Irani to initiate a conversation so that the remaining films are not forgotten in the midst of this controversy and “the two films under dispute are also given fair chance to be viewed in the light Jury has wished them to be”. The film festival begins Monday.
For the ‘features’ section of Indian Panorama, a 13-member jury headed by writer-director Sujoy Ghosh had selected 26 movies after previewing 153 eligible entries.
“The Jury followed the method laid out by the Indian Panorama Regulations, and only wants the same to be applied when dismissing a unanimous decision that was arrived at with much deliberation,” said the letter, which was sent to the minister on Saturday.
Signatories of the letter are director-actor Satarupa Sanyal, film critic Sachin Chatte, filmmaker Suresh Heblikar, director-writer Hari Vishwanath, director-writer Ruchi Narain and actor-director Gopi Desai. The letter emphasised on “the necessity of finding a solution to the issue at hand” as this has “far reaching implications for the sanctity of the system” put into place after years of work by the ministry.
After the list was announced by the ministry on November 9, there was an outrage over removal of Nude and S Durga from it without communicating to the jury or respective filmmakers. Ghosh quit the jury in protest. Following this, writer Apurva Asrani and director Gyan Correa resigned from the jury. Other jury members are filmmakers Nishikant Kamat and Rahul Rawail, actor-producer Merlvin Mukhim and director-producer Nikkhil Advani. The jury members were invited by the ministry, Directorate of Film Festival (DFF) and National Film Development
Corporation (NFDC) to be part of the Indian Panorama.
In the letter, the jury members have written: “We find it distressing that the two films were removed without any intimation, discussion or recourse to the Jury which has the final say according to the Indian Panorama Regulations. So much so, that, as the Hon’ble Minister is aware, three members of the Jury — including the chairman — have resigned in protest. All our written correspondence to DFF and NFDC in the matter went unheeded and there was no response or acknowledgement of the same. Nude and S Durga are relevant in terms of larger conversation on gender, as well as on women empowerment which we know you to be a strong advocate of.” The letter expressed concern that such a move by the ministry would create “a negative image” for the bodies which have garnered a respectable standing over the years.