News From Webindia123.com Nandigram shadow looms over Kolkata Film fest
Kolkata | Friday, Nov 9 2007 IST
When the 13th Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) gets underway tomorrow, the shadow of violence-torn Nandigram will loom large over the silver screen. The week-long carnival of 247 films from 56 countries usually sends film buffs into raptures, but a large section of the intellectuals will be absent protesting the ongoing violence in Nandigram. The city's intellectuals have long been divided into two camps -- one spearheading a civil society movement against the state government's Nandigram and Singur policy and ongoing bloodbath in Nandigram and the other defending the ruling communists. The KFF is organised by the state government under the patronage of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, an ardent film lover. With filmmakers like Aparna Sen deciding to boycott the festival this year, it is a big face loss for Bhattacharjee who loves to hobnob with internationally acclaimed filmmakers during Kolkata's annual cultural event. ''I refuse to be a part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram violence which is worse this time,'' Ms Sen said.
''This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience. With a person of Sen's stature boycotting the festival, the message is loud and clear,'' noted playwright Kaushik Sen said. The actors are members of the Artists, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals' Forum.
Ignoring the boycott, the festival is offering a smorgasbord of films from across the world and will have legendary Argentine director Fernando Ezequiel 'Pino' Solanos as the chief guest. Solanos was scheduled to arrive here on November 11. Before leaving on November 13, he will address a seminar on 'Revisiting Third Cinema' at Nandan, Kolkata's state-run film complex and KFF's main venue. KFF was also scheduled to play host to the daughter of Brazilian filmmaker, theoretician and critic Glauber Rocha. ''The package this year includes socially relevant and aesthetically rich contemporary films,'' said the Chief Minister. Mexican director Francisco Vargas Quevedo's ''El Violin'' (The Violin) is the inaugural film.
The eight-day spread will have special packages on Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Jean-Luc Godard, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, Rocha, Shyam Benegal and films based on the literary works of Dostoevsky and Alberto Moravia. Amos Gitai from Israel and Shyam Benegal were also scheduled to attend the festival, which will have about 40 delegates from across the globe.
The Indian Select section has two Bengali films this year -- Agnidev Chatterjee's ''Prabhu Nasto Hoye Jai'' and Samir Chanda's ''Ekti Nadir Galpo''.
The film market -- an annual feature -- has been organised to celebrate 50 years of Bengali cinema. There will be an exhibition on Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni and Bismillah Khan. ''The festival's budget is Rs 12 million of which the government will provide Rs 7 million and Rs 5 million will be raised through sponsorships,'' the Chief Minister said.
Nandigram: Aparna Sen to boycott film fest
Express News Service
Posted online: Friday, November 09, 2007 at 0000 hrs
KOLKATA, NOVEMBER 8: Nandigram has played spoilsport for the forthcoming Kolkata Film Festival with filmmaker Aparna Sen deciding to boycott the event in protest against the renewed violence. Sen who was supposed to inaugurate the Film Market, a high-profile corporate event associated with the Kolkata Film Festival, called up Film Festival director Nilanjan Chatterjee to inform him that she will not be available for the event.
“I have always felt very close to the Kolkata Film Fest, been very proud of it and thought of it as my own. So it is with a very heavy heart that I have decided to stay away. I could not bring myself to be associated with it after the renewed spate of violence in Nandigram,” Sen told The Indian Express. Earlier, Sen had openly protested against the March 14 police firing in Nandigram in public rallies organised by the city’s intellectual community.
Sen has also resigned from her position as an executive committee member of the Kolkata Film Festival. Asked if she had formally intimated the state government authorities about her decision, she said, “I have told them about my decision over the phone.”The Film Market, scheduled to be held from November 11 to 17, will be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at Nandan. The market is expected to provide a platform for leading film distributors to showcase their creation and promote regional cinema to national and international markets. The inaugural function will also be graced by director Shyam Benegal and actor Soumitra Chatterjee.
Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh followed compatriot Aparna Sen and boycotted the 13th Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) to protest against the violence in West Bengal's Nandigram and the Left government's "inaction".
Ghosh communicated his decision through the Forum of Artistes, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals (FACAI). The festival began Saturday.
"Ghosh communicated to us that he would not attend the festival to protest the Nandigram violence and the silent role of police and the administration as people were being brutalised and killed there," Ajanta Ghosh, spokesperson of FACAI, told IANS.
"He said he was not on the forefront of the Nandigram movement but had always supported the cause and would not be a party to a festival organised by the same government that failed to act and protect the lives of the people," Ajanta Ghosh quoted the filmmaker, who has made the Aishwarya Rai-starred "Chokher Bali", as saying.
Rituparno Ghosh, whose film "The Last Lear" starring Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta is slated for release, has been writing in a Bengali daily against the land acquisition attempts of the government since the protests started in Singur in Hooghly district against a Tata Motors small car project.
The film festival will see 247 films from 56 countries being screened. A section of the city's film fraternity is keeping away to register their protest against the Nandigram violence.
The city's cultural world is divided into two camps - one is spearheading a movement against the government's policy on Nandigram and Singur as well as the violence in Nandigram. The other is defending the communists.
The festival is organised by the government under the patronage of culturally inclined Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, an ardent film lover.
"I refuse to be a part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram violence," Aparna Sen had said earlier.
Among other noted artistes boycotting the event are playwright and film and serial actor Kaushik Sen and playwright Saoli Mitra.
"This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience. With a person of Aparna Sen's stature boycotting the festival, the message would be loud and clear," said Kaushik Sen.
"We cannot attend a festival organised by a government organising the Nandigram violence," said Saoli Mitra.
Nandigram has been hit by increased violence since over a week with the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) launching a massive offensive against the Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) to regained lost bases there. CPI-M cadres have been entering village after village and allegedly torching houses belonging to the rival groups. The BUPC is opposed to acquisition of land by the government for industry.
While the CPI-M maintains that peace is returning to Nandigram, human rights activists and political opponents dispute this.
The death toll in violence in Nandigram has risen to 32 since January when the region flared up over a proposed land acquisition programme for a special economic zone (SEZ). The government axed the plan following stiff resistance.
However, a turf battle has continued to rage in Nandigram between CPI-M and BUPC.
Aparna Sen: Are we living in the middle ages?
November 10, 2007 18:53 IST
Aparna Sen broke into tears even as she spoke about the violence which has become synonymous with Nandigram.
Talking to rediff.com exclusively over phone from Kolkata on Saturday, she said, "The violence in Nandigram has put democracy in danger. The events have taken the shape of a civil war and some drastic steps are needed to put an end to this mindless violence."
Sen, along with her father, filmmaker and critic Chidananda Dasgupta, left the ongoing Kolkata Film Festival Committee in protest against the violence. Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh has also walked out of the event.
"How can we be a part of an event organised by the state government at this stage? The Left Front in Bengal is just the ruling party but the state belongs to the people. What the Left Front is doing in Nandigram is worse than any dictatorship. How can we accept such inhuman behaviour?"
It's a pity, she says, that the people of the state have not yet taken to the streets in protest. "Innocent people are being systematically butchered there. I am ashamed, terrified and helpless," says the filmmaker.
Sen's voice choked as she recounted how activist Medha Patkar was assaulted by the Communist Party of India-Marxists activists as she attempted to enter Nandigram.
According to her, Patkar was dragged by hair and hit on the head by party cadres who did not want her to enter the disputed area. "Are we living in the middle ages? What is the famed intelligentsia of Bengal doing? If they don't stand up against such atrocities, when would they?
"Since film is my medium, the instant protest that I can think of is walking out of the film festival. But that just isn't enough. A much more organised opposition should come from the civil society itself," the filmmaker said.
She said the involvement of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in the issue only complicated matters further. "The people can't see a viable opposition in Mamata. Bandhs can't and won't provide a solution. Rather a silent yet violent candle march by the common people is bound to have a much better impact."
Like Rituparno Ghosh, Sen too felt that it is time the protest against Nandigram was taken to a national level. "The Centre must intervene to put an end to mass killings. We appeal to the central government to free Nandigram of mindless violence," she said.
Kolkata film fest begins under shadow of Nandigram
From correspondents in West Bengal, India, 11:31 PM IST
Marked by a Trinamool Congress protest outside the venue, the 13th Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) got underway at the Nandan complex here Saturday even as filmmakers Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh boycotted it to protest violence in Nandigram.
When reporters asked him on his reaction to the eminent faces of Kolkata's film fraternity boycotting the event, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya first pushed back the boom of a regional television channel and said, 'I know those who are coming to this fest.
'It's better that you prepare a list of those who are not coming and hang it in your residence,' he replied in disgust.
The KFF is organised by the state government under the patronage of the culturally inclined chief minister who is also an ardent film lover.
The event was inaugurated by West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi who has been attacked by the ruling CPI-M for 'overstepping his constitutional rights' following his stinging rebuke of the party and the government for its failure to bring back peace in the trouble-torn Nandigram and the unlawful entry of CPI-M men in the area.
Eminent filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen and Tarun Majumdar besides actor Soumitra Chatterjee were present at the inauguration.
Shortly after the festival was inaugurated, a group of Trinamool supporters led by legislator Sovon Deb Chattopadhyay staged an agitation in front of Nandan.
'Five senior Trinamool leaders were arrested and sent to the central lock-up of Lalbazar, the headquarters of the city police,' Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohon Chakraborty told reporters.
When asked about the security lapse as the agitators came close to Bhattacharya, Chakraborty said, 'We can't stop a sitting MLA to walk across the road but we take prompt action soon after the incident.'
The boycott and protests apart, the festival is offering a smorgasbord of films from across the world. This year 247 films, including documentaries, short films and children's films, from 56 countries would be shown in the event.
Legendary Argentine director Fernando Ezequiel 'Pino' Solanos is the chief guest. Solanos is scheduled to arrive here Nov 11. Before leaving Nov 13, he'll address a seminar on Revisiting Third Cinema at Nandan, Kolkata's state-run film complex and KFF's main venue.
KFF might also play host to the daughter of Brazilian filmmaker, theoretician and critic Glauber Rocha.
'The package this year includes socially relevant and aesthetically rich contemporary films,' said the chief minister.
Mexican director Francisco Vargas Quevedo's 'El Violin' (The Violin) is the inaugural film.
The eight-day spread will have special packages on Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Jean-Luc Godard, Abbas Kiarostami, Rocha, Benegal and films based on the literary works of Dostoevsky and Alberto Moravia.
Amos Gitai from Israel is also scheduled to attend the festival, which will have about 40 delegates from across the globe.