The Information and Broadcasting has barred four short films, including a 45-minute documentary on Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, from being screened at the International Documentary and Short Film festival – which is scheduled to kick off in Kerala on 16 June.
The films are: Unbearable Being of Lightness, a documentary about Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula from University of Hyderabad who allegedly committed suicide; In the Shade of Fallen Chinar, about the lives of a group of young Kashmiri student artists; March March March, based on the JNU protests; and Mojahir.
Watch the trailer of Unbearable Being of Lightness below:
Kathu Lukose, director of March, March, March, said she would move the court against the decision by the ministry arguing that the Centre’s explanation was arbitrary, CNN News 18 reported.
In a Facebook post, Lukose said that the denial of permission to screen the film “is part of the BJP government’s propaganda to curtail the freedom of expression in art and cultural platforms”.
Watch In the Shade of Fallen Chinar here:
The government officials said the films were “sensitive in nature” and “threatened the integrity of the country”
One of the films, based on the slain Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani is “totally violative of the guidelines,” a government official told NDTV.
Expressing anguish over the denial of permission, Kerala Chalachitra Academy chairman and Festival Director Kamal said there is a 'cultural emergency' prevailing in the country.
“We are going through an undeclared emergency in the country. What we should eat, what we should wear, what we should talk, all this is being decided by the ruling dispensation,” he told reporters.
Kerala’s Minister of Cultural Affairs AK Balan said the trend of disallowing documentaries to be screened is unacceptable. CNN News 18 quoted Balan as saying:
For some time we are seeing a fascist trend that is intolerant towards dissent and trying to silence voice of dissent through threats. Why are some people scared when movies are made for discussion on current political situations?
At least 262 short films and documentaries are expected to be screened in the five-day festival, vice chairman and artistic director Bina Paul said.
The festival is being organised by the Kerala state Chalachitra Academy as part of its endeavour to catalyse a vibrant documentary and short film movement. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the festival at the Tagore Theatre on 16 June.
(With inputs from PTI)