International Film Festival of India

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Smriti Irani Ejects Venkaiah Naidu's Nominees, Upends Film Festival Screening Process

The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is barely three months away and the preview committee has already seen more than 150 of the several hundred entries submitted by directors from around the world in order to finalise the list of movies that will be screened at the festival in Goa. However, the entire process now stands jeopardised because the newly appointed information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani has decided to dissolve the 21-member committee appointed by her predecessor, Venkaiah Naidu, and nominate new members in their place.

The minister’s sudden – and unprecedented – action has cast a shadow over the prestigious annual event, which is slated for November 20-28, 2017.

A member of the preview committee, who asked not to be identified, told The Wire, “The preview committee has already seen about 150 films. No one knows whether the grading given to those films will remain or they will have to be seen again by the new members. The committee is mandated to see all the entries within a certain time period. Because international filmmakers would soon begin asking for confirmations as 450 film festivals take place across the world and no filmmaker likes to wait till the end to know whether his or her film has been selected for IFFI. Nobody wants to miss out on some other festival, if IFFI isn’t interested. It is also not fair. So if delay happens in finalising the list, I wonder how many international filmmakers of repute would come to screen their films at IFFI and not opt for some other festival.”

The preview committee appointed by Naidu, who is now the vice president of India, includes Rekha Gupta, a prominent BJP member from Delhi, associated with the RSS’s cultural wing Sanskar Bharati and also a former member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Another member linked to Sanskar Bharti is Praveen Arya. Both of these members, as well as 18 others, have been removed from the committee by Irani.