The cancellation of students section from the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa followed by the arrest and detention of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students has once again escalated tension between protesters and the government. The students have organized a parallel film festival having the theme “Retracing Freedom”.
A day before the festival was to start, the Goa administration on Monday issued notice to the festival organizers asking them to furnish information including whether films to be screened at the festival are certified by Censor board by Tuesday morning. The district magistrate of North Goa, Nila Mohanan, in her notice said film festival such as one organized by FTII students falls under “public exhibition” and therefore comes under the ambit of Cinematograph Act, 1952.
The FTII students association said, “We have been warned not to go ahead with the film festival. Yet, tomorrow, the alternate film festival will begin at 11 am.”
The films being screened at the two-day festival, starting Tuesday, include ‘FTII Strike’, which is about the students’ recent agitation at the campus where they opposed the the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII’s chairman.
Students say the festival will showcase “FTII’s artistic expression and aspiration.”
The film festival will be held at Center for Social Justice and Peace on DD Marg, Panjim, close to the official venue of International Film Festival of India.
“In event of the bizarre scenario of the students section being cancelled from this edition of the ongoing International Film Festival of India, we feel it is pertinent to screen a package of films made by students of Film and Television Institute of India. This festival is another step towards reclaiming our freedom of thought and artistic expression that is under relentless attack currently across the country,” said members of the Film and Television Institute of India Students Association.
Students of FTII have been protesting against the “political appointments” of chairman Gajendra Chauhan and four others. Accusing Chauhan of lacking “stature” and “vision” the students also went on strike for 139 days, although they returned to academics following the firm stand taken by government to not to succumb to students pressure.