The fate of the International Film Festival of Kerala this year is unclear after the Kerala government announced on Tuesday that it had cancelled all state-supported and funded cultural events for one year to divert funds allocated to these events towards flood relief. “Department heads are advised to take measures to transfer the money earmarked for these events to the chief minister’s disaster relief fund,” read the order issued by principal secretary Biswanath Saha.
The decision has led to speculation about the cancellation of Kalolsavam, the school state youth festival, and IFFK, which is scheduled to take place between December 14 and 21. On Tuesday, some media publications even reported that this year’s IFFK has been called off. An official statement from the organising committee of the film festival is yet to be released.
The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy organises IFFK every year. The festival is one of the best programmed and attended events in the country.
A member of Chalachitra Academy told Scroll.in on the condition of anonymity that the culture ministry has not yet taken a final decision on cancelling the film festival. The official added that the academy has apprised the ministry of the difficulties of cancelling the festival at this point and claimed that Minister AK Balan has responded positively. The issue will be taken up with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after he returns from the United States of America later this month and a decision will be taken after that, the official added.
Meanwhile, the academy has put forward the suggestions that it will raise its own funds to reduce the burden on the government, academy president Kamal told Asianet News. One of the suggestions is to increase the delegate fee, the filmmaker said. “There is also the money that the government has already given us which we have already used to start preparations for the festival – using those funds, we are thinking if we can organise the festival perhaps at a smaller scale,” Kamal added.
Calling off the festival this year will have a negative impact on Malayalam films, especially those that have been made over the last year, Kamal added. The selection process for Malayalam films at the festival is currently on, and should the festival be cancelled, it will be difficult to accommodate these films next year, he explained.
The fate of the biannual Kochi Muziris Biennale, which is also scheduled to take place in December, is unclear. The government order extends to all events organised by the tourism department.
Earlier in August, the Kerala government had called off the annual Onam celebrations and the Nehru trophy boat race. Funds set apart for these events were added to flood relief operations.
At least 483 people lost their lives, 14 are still missing and thousands became homeless overnight in the unprecedented floods that hit the state this monsoon.