The state government’s decision to hold the 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in four different cities — and not only in Thiruvananthapuram as was the case in the previous editions — has come under criticism with a section of film personalities questioning the move.
Although the state cultural affairs department cited the Covid-19 situation in the state for the move, some in the film industry said it was part of an attempt to deny Thiruvananthapuram the status of permanent venue.
Last week, the government decided to conduct the first phase of the IFFK in Thiruvananthapuram (February 10-14), the second phase in Ernakulam (February 17-21), the third phase in Thalassery (February 23-27) and the fourth phase in Palakkad (March 1-5). Each show would be limited to maximum 200 people and the delegates have to submit negative certificates for Covid-19.
Dr Biju, who has directed several critically-acclaimed films, said the pandemic should not be the reason for change of venue. “During Covid-19 times, all international film festivals across the world adopted two ways – either drop the festival or conduct it in the same venue after complying with the pandemic protocol,” he said.
“The International Film Festival of India is slated to be held in Goa this month as per Covid-19 protocol. It is not clear why Kerala is changing the venue of the film festival and conducting it in four cities,” he said.
The director said that the decision would lead to IFFK losing accreditation of the International Federation of Film Producers Association. The government could have conducted several regional film festivals, instead of taking the IFFK to four cities. The government should have looked at the option of increasing the number of theatres and reducing the number of delegates for the festival to overcome the Covid-19 crisis, he said.
Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor also criticised the move. “This is deplorable from Chief Minister’s Office, Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram offers IFFK not just a great venue, but tradition, facilities and above all a passionate population of knowledgeable cinephiles. It’s where Senegalese films attract sold-out crowds and Kim Ki-Duk [South Korean director] was mobbed in the street,” he said.
State Cultural Affairs Minister A K Balan said the government cannot take any risk because of the Covid-19 situation. “The festival, in its normal manner, cannot be held this time. The decision to conduct the festival in four cities is a fitting one. State capital would be the permanent venue. There is no move to take the permanent venue out of Thiruvananthapuram,” he said.
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