HC calls for record of Mumbai International Film FestivalUpdated: Jan 24, 2020 16:51 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday called for records pertaining to documentary, short and animation films at the Mumbai International Film Festival, following a petition alleging that three documentaries were rejected for being critical of the Central government.
The division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice RI Chagla said while it did not want to curtail the freedom of the selection committee, it wanted to verify that the films were properly reviewed.
The bench was hearing a petition filed jointly by two documentary filmmakers, Anand Patwardhan and Pankaj Kumar. While Patwardhan had submitted one of his recent documentaries, ‘Vivek/Reason’, Kumar had submitted two documentaries.
‘Vivek’ documents the murders of rationalists like Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh in the backdrop of the rise of a particular political ideology in recent times, and investigates the connection of these crimes to various sectarian outfits and hate crimes in the country. The film, according to the petition, “gives an overview of the turmoil India is presently witnessing”.
Kumar’s ‘Janani’s Juliet’, India’s official entry for the Academy Awards, highlights honour killings while ‘Two Flags’ chronicles life and politics in Puducherry.
The petition said all the three documentaries, which have received acclaim internationally, were rejected because of their content which is critical of the current government. It added that ‘Vivek’ was premiered at Toronto Film Festival in 2018 and was one of the three films shortlisted for the documentary category for the Oscars.
Their counsel, senior advocate Mihir Desai, submitted that the filmmakers did not even know if the films were viewed by the selection committee for the five-day film festival, scheduled to start on January 28.
Desai said the selection committee could have selected the three documentaries for non-competition category, if not for the competition. “No doubt they have the discretion, but the question is what is the ground for selecting or rejecting films,” he said, adding that there was no transparency.
The bench has posted the petition for further hearing on Monday.