International Film Festival of India jury President Nadav Lapid was speaking in his personal capacity when he described Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files as “a propaganda, vulgar movie” at the closing ceremony of the event on Monday and this did not reflect the view of the panel, said its only Indian member Sudipto Sen, on Tuesday.
In a tweet posted hours after Lapid made the remarks, Sen wrote jury members did not speak about their “likes and dislikes” at the official press conference of the event and the jury board’s presentation to the festival director.
On Monday, Lapid had said that the movie was unworthy of being included in the film festival’s International Competition section. He had said that “all the jury members” were “disturbed and shocked” by Agnihotri’s film, which explores the exodus of Pandits from Kashmir in the 1990s.
In his tweet, Sen added: “As juror, 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 personal capacity – nothing to do with esteemed jury board.”
In his speech at the closing ceremony, Lapid had said: “It felt to us totally like a propaganda, vulgar movie inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on the stage since the spirit that we felt in the festival can surely accept also a critical discussion, which is essential for art and for life.”
In addition to Lapid and Sen, American producer Jinko Gotoh, French film editor Pascale Chavance, French documentary filmmaker Javier Angulo Barturen were part of the jury that evaluated 15 entries.
Lapid is a director from Israel whose Synonyms and Ahad’s Knee have won major awards at film festivals.
At a press conference held on Monday evening before the closing ceremony, Lapid had appreciated the quality of films in International Competition section, adding however, that there is always scope for improvement in selection, according to a press release from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Sen had told the reporters at the briefing that this year’s International Film Festival of India was the best that he had seen.
“The kind of diversity, colour and presentation of India as a country were all very good. Considering the various aspects of festivals, I can surely say that IFFI is at par with many international film festivals,” he said.
At the closing ceremony, where Lapid criticised The Kashmir Files, the audience included Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Union Ministers of State L Murugan and Shripad Naik.
Among the international guests at the festival were Lior Raz and Avi Isaacharoff, the creators of Fauda, the popular terrorism-themed show from Israel. The series’s fourth season was premiered at IFFI. In a previous statement, Thakur spoke of an “effective audio-visual” treaty between India and Israel.
Raz and Isaacharoff were at the closing ceremony, along with Naor Gilon, Israel’s Ambassador to India.
In remarks shared by the Press Information Bureau, Thakur said at the closing event: “Israel and India are both leading start-up destinations of the world, especially in the tech sector. India and Israel share a very special bond.”