THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With just eight more days left for the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) to kickstart, Kerala State Chalachithra Academy (KSCA), the organising body, is at its active best. Hectic preparations are underway to successfully conduct the annual festival which will showcase 190 films from 65 countries in 465 screenings.
The eight-day festival will see 10,000 delegates visiting the city to occupy over 8,000 seats in 14 theatres. The numbers have been limited this time to control crowds. But the step alone is not expected to make the festival an easier event for the organisers. As witnessed over the years, the festival venue is also a platform for activists to raise their collective voices. Even the organisers are appreciative of the voices of dissent. “Protests are part of the festival. I don’t expect people come to the venue just to watch films,” said festival director and Kerala State Chalachithra Academy (KSCA) chairperson Kamal. He, however, was quick to add that the organiser would like to maintain a neutral stand on most of the issues.
This year too there is no dearth of controversies. There are signs that activists are planning to bring up issues ranging from local to international topics. This year too has seen open resistance against the male domination in Malayalam film industry and solidarity movement to support an actress who was attacked. ‘Avalkoppam: Male Auteurs and Malayalam’, is the title of a package of seven Malayalam films to be screened at the festival. It is not incidental that the title was named after the solidarity movement ‘Avalkoppam’ that began after the attack on the actress. The discussions that will follow screening is likely to give impetus to the demand for parity in the industry.
No film festival will ever go without a discussion and show of resistance against the attempts to curb the freedom of expression. This year such protests are going to be more lively after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting created hurdles to screen the city-based director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s movie, ‘S.Durga’. It has become a controversy much before the latest intervention by the ministry. After the censor board cancelled the certificate issued to the movie, the chances of it being screened have become nil. “We are ready to screen it if the producer gets permission from the court or produces a certified version,” said Kamal.
On the issue of a court order making it mandatory to stand up when the National Anthem is played before a movie in theatres, the organisers said that it will comply with the rule as long as it is in force. The matter is subjudice and a verdict is likely by January. In the last year edition, the organisers had a tough task in making the delegates comply with the order. An announcement will be made before the screening to remind delegates of the existing rule.