A group of indie filmmakers have launched a social media movement called Reform the IFFK against the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). The movement has also gained support from well-known independent filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who has rejected an opportunity to showcase his latest film Chola at IFFK.
“Chola has been invited to the Kaleidoscope section in the 24th IFFK. I am much humbled by the invitation but I have sent a mail stating that I am withdrawing the film from the festival, protesting against its overtly biased and unprofessional way of the selection process in the Malayalam cinema today section (sic),” wrote the director on his Facebook page. Sanal’s Chola made his world debut at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival, where the film garnered rave reviews.
“I believe that, it would be huge irresponsibility from my part to participate in the festival which is openly biased and outdated in its selection process. Chola – Movie will be released soon in theatres! I support the #Reform_The_IFFK movement, a movement initiated by my fellow filmmakers in Indie cinema sector, though I am not part of that movement for personal reasons (sic),” he added.
It is worth noting that Sanal has been a staunch critic of IFFK for a long time. He has been very vocal about raising concerns about the functioning of the organisers of the festival. In 2017, he even launched his own film festival Kazcha Indie Film Festival (KIFF) to rival IIFK. He accused IIFK of drifting towards more popular movies and failing to promote the works of independent filmmakers.
The organisers of Reform the IFFK movement also share Sanal’s sentiment about the festival. The protesting group of indie filmmakers have accused Kerala Chalachitra Akademi and the IFFK of several irregularities. including rejecting films even without viewing them. The group has also invited filmmakers who think that Akademi has done wrong by them.
“For years the organizers of the International Film Festival of Kerala – IFFK Official have been flouting rules and the very purpose of a film festival: rejecting your films WITHOUT VIEWING THEM, showcasing box-office hits to please the marketplace, setting up selection panels without paying heed to the regulations, etc. WE ARE GOING TO THE COURTS!!! We want to get the current IFFK selection lists of Indian and Malayalam films cancelled. We want the Academy to reconstitute the panels and make fresh and fair selections. If you feel you’ve been wronged as a FILMMAKER when your film was rejected, JOIN US IN OUR FIGHT, as we take the Chalachitra Academy to court (sic),” read the battle cry posted on the Reform the IFFK Facebook page.
The week-long film festival in Kerala is set to take place between December 6 and December 12. At present, about 12 films have been selected for the Malayalam Cinema Today category, including recently released films Jallikattu, Virus and a slew of other popular films that had a successful run at the box office.
Indie filmmaker Leena Manimekalai also expressed her solidarity with the Reform the IFFK movement. “Exactly. I am told my film was not viewed by the Jury this time. It is sad that IFFK, the festival that played a crucial role in me becoming a filmmaker, the festival where I have been on preselection jury myself is becoming a playground for politics, corruption and nepotism by the few and the powerful. If I am being targeted for my voice, I will only amplify it. I can be defeated but cannot be destroyed (sic),” she wrote on her Facebook page.