Filmmakers Up In Arms After Ministry Blocks Screening Of Documentaries

The filmmakers argue that their films have been in the public domain for months. Two of them have been available on YouTube watched by thousands of people. The government's ban, they say, only stop them from entering a contest, where a victory may bring prestige to India.

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Filmmakers Up In Arms After Ministry Blocks Screening Of Documentaries

The documentaries were to be screened at an international film fest in Thiruvananthapuram.

Thiruvananthapuram:  Three filmmakers have decided to approach the court after the government stopped the screening of their documentaries at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival film festival. The documentaries deal with controversial issues - the last year's unrest in Kashmir, the suicide of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula and the trouble in Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University and the arrest of its former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

The filmmakers argue that their films have been in the public domain for months. Two of them have been available on YouTube watched by thousands of people. The government's ban, they say, only stop them from entering a contest, where a victory may bring prestige to India.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had denied permission to screen the films last week. Beena Paul, one of the organisers of the film fest, said the ministry has cited no reason in its order withholding permission. "These festivals are cultural landscapes and these documentaries are already on YouTube. So it is a peculiar situation where young documentary makers are being denied entry into competitions without any reason," she added.

"I am not surprised that the permission has been denied," said 27-year-old Kathu Lukose, the director of "March March March", which focuses on last year's student unrest in JNU. "This is just the government's continuing attack on academia and culture".

Ms Lukose was a student of JNU when she was making the movie and had witnessed some of the events first-hand.

Fazil NC, 28, who made the "In The Shade Of Fallen Chinar" - a movie on Kashmir -- said over the last eight months, around 50,000 people have watched his documentary on YouTube.

The ban, he said, has been a blessing or sorts. "Over the last two days, traffic has steeped, with more than 10,000 viewers," he added.

PN Ramachandra, who directed "The Unbearable Being of Lightness", a film that delves into the circumstances of the death of Rohith Vemula, said he had screened his documentary in another film festival in Kolkata in November last year, and is perplexed that he has been denied the permission now.

"By not allowing the screening of my documentary, the government thinks it can stop around 500 people from watching it. But I have uploaded it to YouTube last evening, and many, many more people are going to watch it," said 50-year-old Mr Ramachandra.

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