For the first time in recent years, the Directorate of Film Festival (DFF) has dropped the students’ films package from International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
Although DFF officials said the decision had been taken due to “tight schedule,” many see it as a move to pre-empt any trouble at the festival as “promised” by beleaguered students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
Since 2010, IFFI used to screen five films from each of four prominent film institutes in the country – FTII, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata, AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre and MGR Governing Film and Television Institute in Chennai.
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A look at the IFFI screening schedule of past few years shows that five films from each school had two screenings each during the festival’s 10-day duration.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the decision to include the students’ films package in the festival was taken by IFFI organisers in 2010 with an aim to “provide a international platform to showcase most creatively compelling films produced by students each year”.
DFF’s deputy director Rizwan Ahmed said the students’ films had been dropped as they could not fit into the schedule introduced this year with new packages. “That package (students’ films) has been dropped as there was no space in the schedule for them. We have introduced some new packages this year, which include films by women directors and a package of films from North-East. Because of this, the students’
package had to be dropped. Maybe if we find space, we would include them next year,” Ahmed said.
A senior official with FTII said they had not been given any explanation for dropping the section. “Every year since 2010, we have been sending our best five films for showcasing at IFFI. This year, we did not receive any notification from them. Hence, we didn’t send anything. We have not been told why it was done,” he said.
Students, on their part, see the decision as an outcome of their recent protest against the appointment of television actor Gajendra Chauhan and others on FTII society. They said the decision exposed the government’s “doublespeak”.
“On one hand, ministers tell us that they want to develop FTII as a centre of excellence. On the other, they discontinue the tradition of showcasing our films at most important film festival in the country,” said Ashwani Sharma, a final-year sound recording student.
Sharma said that by dropping the entire students’ package from IFFI, the DFF had done injustice to students of other film institutes as well. “It’s understandable that they were wary of scheduling FTII films.
But why deny students from other film institutes the opportunity?” he said.
However, three FTII diploma films have made it to Indian Panorama section of the festival. Sadabahar Brass Brand, a film by 2009 batch student Tushar More, Kamakshi, a diploma film by 2007 batch student Satindar Singh Bedi and Seek and Hide, a film by another 2007 batch student Manoj Nitharwal, have been selected in non-feature category.