Many, including MP Shashi Tharoor, have alleged that this is part of an attempt to eventually move the festival out of Thiruvananthapuram
The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy’s decision to organise the 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in four phases across four regions spread out across the State has kicked up a storm.
Many, including MP Shashi Tharoor, MLA K.S.Sabarinadhan as well as some capital-based social media groups have alleged that this is part of an attempt to eventually move the festival out of Thiruvananthapuram, even though the Academy as well as Culture Minister A.K. Balan have categorically stated that the capital would continue to be the permanent venue of the festival and that this is a stop-gap arrangement considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
In his post, Mr.Tharoor said, “This is deplorable. Thiruvananthapuram offers IFFK not just a great venue, but tradition, facilities and above all a passionate population of knowledgeable cinephiles”.
Mr.Sabarinadhan said that it is “unfortunate that the Government is organising the festival partially in four districts, instead of organising it completely in Thiruvananthapuram. This decision will destroy the Thiruvananthapuram brand that we built up over 25 years in the global cinema map.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Chalachitra Academy Chairperson Kamal rubbished the allegations and said that as a festival accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), it should have a permanent venue, which would always be Thiruvananthapuram.
“As per the FIAPF rules, the festival should have a permanent venue like Cannes or Berlin. IFFK chose Thiruvananthapuram as a permanent venue. This cannot be changed. The festival will lose its accreditation if it is changed. This time, we wrote to the FIAPF first for permission to shift the dates of the festival considering the pandemic. Later, we also wrote with this proposal to spread it out in four regions, to reduce the crowd, which also they permitted.
“The FIAPF also appreciated us for taking these efforts to organise the festival, at a time when many others were cancelled. In its permission, it has mentioned clearly that this arrangement is only for this year. It was the State Government which asked the academy to find an alternate way this year to organise the festival by ensuring that large crowds do not gather,” said Mr. Kamal.
Mr.Kamal said that it is unfortunate that even people’s representatives are making statements to mislead the public, even after the Minister for Culture has stated that Thiruvananthapuram will be a permanent venue.
“One of the facts that they do not mention is that we are organising the entire festival in Thiruvananthapuram first, and is repeating the same programme in four other regions. It is for the convenience of people from all those places, who cannot travel till the capital during this pandemic period. We have to reduce the crowd, but we cannot tell these people to not travel here. So, this was one way out of the problem. We have got a lot of appreciation from people in these regions after this decision,” he said.
On the arguments regarding cancellation of the festival altogether, he said that the Academy did not want to do that on the 25th anniversary of the festival. Also, many filmmakers who have put out their work this year, will lose an opportunity to screen it if the festival is cancelled.
The Academy has been organising regional-level festivals, modelled on the IFFK, in various towns across the State for the past few years.