CONTROVERSY STIRS AS IFFI CONCLUDES
The 53rd International Film Festival of India recently concluded its last day on Monday, November 28. The closing ceremony saw many dignitaries giving their concluding speeches, including Nadav Lapid who was the IFFI jury head. But a statement passed by him during his speech has been meeting with severe backlash online. The Israeli screenwriter and filmmaker criticised Vivek Agnihotri's 2022 film, The Kashmir Files, calling it "propaganda". The film is based on the exodus killing of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 Kashmir. Lapid, in his address, said, "We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film: The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like propaganda, a vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and life." Post the incident, Israel's Consul General to Mumbai Kobbi Shoshani took to Twitter to write, "I saw the Kashmir file and met the cast. I have a different opinion than Nadav Lapid. After his speech, I told Nadav my opinion."
Fellow jury member, Sudipto Sen reacted to Lapid's remarks and stated that the comments made by the jury head were solely his personal opinions. "In the official presentation of the Jury Board to the Festival Director and in the official Press Conference, where we 4 juries (the fifth jury had to leave for her emergency) were present and interacted with the press, we never mentioned anything about our likes or dislikes. Both were our official collective opinion. As jurors, we are assigned to judge the technical, aesthetic quality and socio-cultural relevance of a film. We don't indulge in any kind of political comments on any film and if it is done, it is completely in a personal capacity - nothing to do with the esteemed Jury Board," the letter said. Vinod Ganatra, who is the chairman of the Jury Members of the Indian Panorama (Feature Films), also reacted to the matter. He said, "If the jury talks like this, then what about Schindler’s List? I strongly oppose and condemn this jury’s comment. I am also the chairman of the feature jury and I feel that it is insulting to India and for a film like this." Hindi film actor, Anupam Kher who was part of the film, too responded to Lapid's statement. He took to Twitter to post several images, including one still from the film that featured him. Along with it, he wrote a Hindi statement that loosely translates to, "No matter how big the lie is, it's always small in comparison to the truth (sic)." He also gave his opinion to ANI and said, "If the holocaust is right, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is right too. Seems pre-planned as immediately after that the toolkit gang became active. May God give him wisdom."