The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday changed the International Film Festival of India’s (IFFI) preview committee, when the screenings for the festival were mid-way. The new, larger preview committee announced through an order, will have 40 members, removing almost everyone from the previous committee. Vivek Agnihotri is the convenor of the new committee. On August 12, he was appointed to the board of Central Board of Film Certification as well, after Pahlaj Nihalani was replaced by Prasoon Joshi as the chairman.
Prasoon Joshi is also part of IFFI’s steering committee announced on August 18. Agnihotri’s wife, Pallavi Joshi, has also been appointed to the preview committee. Till last year, the IFFI’s preview committee used to be constituted every year, with a few changes among members. But last year M Venkaiah Naidu decided to set up the committee for a three-year period to give it continuity.
The members had already sat through one schedule of screenings, watching nearly 150 movies in July-end and early August. The committee, divided into three panels of seven members each, was supposed to reconvene after Independence Day. But the members were informed through email that the second schedule to watch the movies to select for IFFI has been postponed. NO reason was given.
One of the members of the older preview committee told The Indian Express that though it is the minister’s prerogative to change the committee members “it should not have been done mid-way”. Members had been unofficially told by the Directorate of Film Festivals that I&B minister Smriti Irani wanted to change the committee. The sitting fee and the travel allowance that each member is entitled to was increased this year after over a decade. Till last year, each member used to get Rs 100 per film they watched and Rs 100 as a daily travel allowance. Since this year, the rates were increased to Rs 500 per film a member watches and Rs 1,000 as daily travel allowance. This was done before Irani took over.
Sources said that till a few years ago the festival used to get about 500 to 600 movies every year. But in the last two to three years, the number of entries has gone up, and most entries now come online. This year the number of entries is believed to be over 1,000.