MUMBAI/KOCHI: Filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh on Tuesday said he had resigned as head of the jury of IFFI’s Indian Panorama section following the controversy over the removal of two films from the final selection.
Overruling the recommendation of the 13-member jury, the information and broadcasting ministry pulled out Malayalam movie S Durga and Marathi film Nude from the 48th edition of the film festival, to be held in Goa from November 20 to 28.
Asked if he has resigned as jury head in the wake of the controversy, Ghosh told PTI, “Yes, but I can’t say anything more than that right now.”
Several jury members expressed their displeasure over the ministry’s move to drop the films from the list they submitted.
The jury submitted its list to the ministry on September 20-21, but the lineup was made public only recently and without the name of the two films.
According to sources in the know, the ministry objected because the film that was supposed to be screened at IFFI was Sexy Durga and not S Durga, the version cleared by the censor board.
The sources added that Nude could not make the cut as the submission was “technically incomplete”.
Film director Ruchi Narain, a member of the jury, said she respected Ghosh’s decision to resign.
“I was dismayed by the exclusion of two highly recommended films. It was disappointing that they were just taken off. We sat for three weeks and watched 153 films before making the list,” Narain told PTI.
She said the jury included only those films it thought were worthy of cinematic contribution.
“A film festival audience has a certain standard and we kept that in mind,” she said.
Her colleague in the jury, actor-filmmaker Satarupa Sanyal, said the chairman should have been informed about the decision to drop the two films.
“These films were selected after 21 days of deliberations. I think there must be a protocol to inform the jury chairman of the decision. Nude was a fantastic film and was liked by the jury unanimously,” Sanyal said.
In a world class film festival, she added, films with adult themes should be there.
It was an unprecedented move, a jury member said on the condition of anonymity.
S Durga, which was earlier titled Sexy Durga, is a road movie that follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men. It won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.
Nude depicts the struggle of a woman secretly working as a nude model in Mumbai.
Both directors told PTI they were shocked and disappointed by the ministry’s decision. S Durga director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan on Tuesday filed a petition in the Kerala High Court against the Information and Broadcasting ministry and IFFI officials over his film being dropped from the Panorama section of the festival. “I want the ministry to go by the rule and not overlook the jury’s decision. They should behave like a democracy, not a dictatorship,” Sasidharan told PTI.
He said he wanted the ministry to implement the jury’s decision and include films in the final list.
The respondents in his petition include the Union of India, represented by the secretary to the ministry of information and broadcasting, the directorate of film festivals, chairman, jury for feature films and the Indian Panorama, 48th International Film Festival of India, Goa.
Coming out in support of S Durga, actor Renuka Shahane said, “They have changed the name to S Durga bowing to those sentiments. Now what is the problem? There is nothing offensive in that film. Why has it become a trend to get hurt presumptuously! Have you seen the film?” Renuka tweeted.
Congress leader Manish Tiwari, who was the I&B minister in the previous UPA government, said the interference with the jury decisions by the ministry is “a new low”.
“Preposterous – that I&B ministry got two films dropped from IFFI2017. Interference with jury decisions a new low. When (the) ministry tasked with defending freedom of speech and expression becomes its slayer it is time for the creative community to revolt against this crude censorship,” he said on Twitter.