BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) winner Jinko Gotoh, who was part of the five-member international competition jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), said on Sunday that she and two of her fellow jurors are standing by the jury. jury president Nadav Lapid’s statement at the closing ceremony that The Kashmir Files was a “propaganda” film.
A statement released by Gotoh on Twitter said: “At the closing ceremony of the festival, Nadav Lapid, president of the jury, made a statement on behalf of the jury members: “We were all disturbed and shocked by the 15th film The Kashmir. Files that seemed to us like a vulgar propaganda film, unsuitable for the artistic competition section of such a prestigious film festival.” We stand by his statement. And to clarify, we do not take a political stance on the content of the film. We were making an artistic statement and we are very sorry to see the platform of the festival being used for politics and subsequent personal attacks on Nadav. That was never the intention of the jury.”
In addition to Gotoh, who is an Oscar-nominated producer of Amerial, the statement posted on her twitter account was signed by two other judges of the 53rd IFFI. They were documentary filmmaker, film critic and journalist from France Javier Angulo Barturen and French film editor Pascale Chavance. The jury consisted of Lapid, Gotoh, Barturen, Chavance and film director Sudipto Sen, who worked mainly in Indian cinema.
When asked why he spoke about a film that was not selected for an award, Lapid responded Indian Express“Yes, basically the jury doesn’t do that. They are supposed to watch the films, enjoy them, talk about their merits and choose the winners. But then basically movies like Kashmiri Writings should not be part of the competition section at film festivals. I have been a member of the jury at dozens of festivals, including international ones held in Berlin, Cannes, Locarno and Venice. I have never seen a film like The Kashmir Files at these festivals. When you show a film like that to a jury, you force them to behave differently.”
When The Indian Express asked Sen, the only Indian on the jury of the International Competition, to comment on the statement released by Gotoh, he said, “I will not change my statement, whatever I have told you, even on other platforms. My comments will remain the same… It is true that the said film was rejected on artistic grounds. But I objected (against) his (Lapid’s) statement – which was not “artistic”. ‘Vulgar’ or ‘Propaganda’ is not an ‘artistic’ statement.”
After Lapid described The Kashmir Files as a “vulgar propaganda film”, Sen earlier told the daily that Lapid’s statement was in his “personal capacity”. “Nadav went to speak on the stage of the closing ceremony of IFFI as the chairman of the jury of the international competition. However, the statements he made there were made in his personal capacity. Whatever we said as part of the jury about the competition films, we said in the official presentation to the director of the festival and other officials on November 27 and later at the press conference,” he said.
Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, The Kashmir Files released on March 11 this year, ran to packed theaters across the country but was panned by critics. The film, which has been declared tax-exempt, is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley in the 1990s.