Kashmir Files: Israeli envoy Naor Gilon slams Lapid for hurting ties with India

Updated on Nov 29, 2022 11:22 AM IST

Lapid, an award-winning Israeli screenwriter, director, and the 53rd International Film Festival of India jury chair, said the movie was inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of 53rd International Film Festival of India

Israeli ambassador Naor Gilon. (Twitter)
Israeli ambassador Naor Gilon. (Twitter)

Israeli ambassador Naor Gilon on Tuesday slammed Nadav Lapid for damaging their country’s ties with India, saying he should be ashamed a day after the latter stoked a controversy by calling The Kashmir Files movie “vulgar propaganda”.

Lapid, an award-winning Israeli screenwriter, director, and the 53rd International Film Festival of India jury chair, said the movie was inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. He made the comments from a lectern in the televised closed ceremony.

In a series of tweets, Gilon said he felt ashamed and wanted to apologize to their hosts “for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship.” He added he has written an open letter to Lapid. “It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.”

Gilon said Lapid will go back to Israel thinking that he was bold and “made a statement”. “We, the representatives of Israel, would stay here. You should see our DM [Direct Messages] boxes following your ‘bravery’ and what implications it may have on the team under my responsibility.”

He called the friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel very strong. He added it will survive the damage Lapid has inflicted.

The Kashmir Files deals with the 1990 exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. It was part of the pool of 15 films competing in the international section for the golden peacock, the festival’s top prize.

Lapid, who has won awards at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, said members of the jury had vivid discussions about the other 14 films in the competition, but the 15th left them shocked. “I feel totally comfortable to share these feelings with you on stage since the feeling we felt at this festival can truly accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and for life.”

The Kashmir Files was screened at IFFI. Actor Anupam Kher, the movie’s director Vivek Agnihotri and producer were present at the festival. The film was a top-grosser this year and received support from members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Some scholars derided it for inaccuracies.

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