AFTER DROPPING the students’ film package from the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held last year, now uncertainty looms large over the fate of the National Students’ Film Awards, which is organised by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry every year.
Instituted in 2012, the awards — accompanied by the National Students’ Film Festival — are held alternately at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata.
This year, the event was supposed to take place at the SRFTI. The event generally takes place in February-March. SRFTI authorities say the lack of fund allotment on part of the I&B Ministry is holding them back from organising the annual event.
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This, seen in the light of the vociferous protests held at FTII against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as institute chairman, is being seen as another ‘move’ by the ministry to ‘teach the students a lesson’, say film students, adding that more than causing any loss to students of FTII and SRFTI, this move will affect the students from smaller film schools who find the event a platform to showcase their works.
“There are some funds-related issues. The director will be able to tell you more about it,” said SRFTI Dean Nilotpal Mazumdar. Sanjaya Pattanayak, Director-SRFTI, didn’t provide a comment despite repeated attempts.
Deepak Kumar, Deputy Secretary (Films), I&B, said that no final decision about the fate of the event has been taken. “It’s still under consideration. The awards can be held although we don’t know when. There is no such schedule for the festival and it can be held at any time of the year,” said Kumar. Asked about how the festival can be organised when no call for entries have gone out, Kumar refused to answer.
The 2015 edition of the event, which took place at FTII, was organised at an expense of Rs 91 lakh, the financial report of the institute shows. FTII, which is a co-organiser of the event, has received no communication about the event. Officials of the Directorate of Film Festival (DFF) — another co-organiser — said that they too had no instruction about the event from the I&B Ministry.
Film students, on their part, feel that this is another move by the BJP-led government to silence the ‘voices of youngsters’.
“This decision isn’t surprising. After the four-month long strike at the institute, it was quite expected that the government will do every thing to corner the students. They got rid of the ‘Students Film Package’ from the IFFI. Now, they have done this. What is disheartening, however, is that more than affecting the FTII or SRFTI students, this move will rob the students of smaller film schools of an opportunity to showcase their work at the national level. The budget of the event — Rs 80-90 lakh — is not so much that it will be any kind of a burden. The motive is clear, to get back at us for the voices of dissent raised by us,” said Ajayan Adat, a final year Sound Recording student at FTII.