Censorship battle

Kerala High Court rejects filmmakers’ pleas seeking to screen documentaries at ongoing festival

At such festivals, pictures do not need a censor certificate but require a censor exemption from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The Kerala High Court on Friday rejected a petition by the makers of two documentaries who sought permission to screen their film at the ongoing International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.

The two were among three documentaries that had been denied a “censor exemption” from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Screenings at such festivals do not need a censor certificate but require a censor exemption from the ministry.

The petitions filed were by the directors of In the Shade of Fallen Chinar, which was shot in Kashmir before the unrest had begun last July, and March March March, which looks at the students protests in Jawaharlal Nehru University last year. The third documentary that was denied a censor exemption was The Unbearable Being of Lightness, which is about a shopping centre at the University of Hyderabad, where Dalit PhD scholar Rohit Vemula had committed suicide.

The ministry had allegedly not cited any reasons for denying the three films permission to be screened.

The High Court on Friday dismissed the petitions because of a pending appeal by Kerala Chalachithra Academy, which is hosting the film festival. The Academy is a body under the state’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Justice PB Suresh Kumar said, “Since it is stated that the appeal preferred by the second respondent challenging the impugned order is pending before the appellate authority, I do not feel it appropriate to deal with the contentions raised by the petitioners as to the sustainability of the impugned decision. The writ petitions, in the circumstances, are dismissed,” The Indian Express reported.

The film festival is on till June 20.

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