Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, which organises the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), deliberately ignores independent cinema, the Movement for Independent Cinema (MIC) has alleged.
The MIC is a newly-formed collective of filmmakers, technicians, critics and cineastes for the promotion of independent cinema. It has around 150 members from across the State.
'IFFK important for independent filmmakers'
Independent cinema, which started in Kerala in the 1970s, had always remained a slender parallel stream flowing alongside the much larger and dominant mainstream of popular cinema that catered to the entertainment market.
The IFFK, which started in 1996, gave some boost to the independent stream by showcasing these films in the yearly festival. But of late, this small space too is being taken over by mainstream cinema which already has a huge market of its own with well -established lines of commercial distribution and release, MIC alleged. “Independent cinema has no such distribution or release possibilities. Nor do television channels buy these films. This is why the IFFK is so important to independent us. It is almost the only venue for such filmmakers to show their films to the public,” MIC stated in a press release.
The 'Malayalam Cinema Today' section of the IFFK showcases 14 films and also gives a grant of Rs 2 lakhs to each of them. Two of these films will be included in the International Competition category. This grant is given to support and promote good cinema. “Of late, almost half of this section comprises films that have been released in Kerala and are even available on DVDs or on online platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime. It is quite obvious that the Rs2 lakhs encouragement grant is not meant for these box office hits that belong to what are called the '50-crore' or '100-crore clubs,'” said MIC.
“People come to a festival to see films that have not been released or are not available on online platforms. Presenting them with a package of 14 films with 8 of them released all over the state and some of them available online is ridiculous. It only serves to reduce the stature of the festival,” said filmmaker Santosh Babusenan.
Under the banner of the MIC, independent filmmakers of Kerala are taking up these issues with the Academy and the Department of Culture, Kerala.
Some members of the MIC have filed another case in the High Court against the gross illegalities in the selection of two women filmmakers in the KSFD’s programme of awarding of grants to women filmmakers.
“The MIC is also planning several protest programmes during and after the IFFK this year till our demands given below are met,” said Sunilnath, member of MIC.
Here are the major demands of MIC:
1. Every film selected to the International Competition and Malayalam Cinema Today section should be a Kerala premiere — that is, the film should not have been screened anywhere in Kerala before the IFFK.
2. The majority of the selectors in the Malayalam Cinema Today section and the jury for the Kerala State film awards should not be Malayalis. Members of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy (KSCA) or the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) should not be included in the selection panels or the juries.
3. Award a grant of Rs 20 lakhs each to all films in the Malayalam Cinema Today section and all Malayalam films in the Festival Kaleidoscope section.
4. Appoint a new Artistic Director for the IFFK once in every five years.
5. Organise a film market along with the IFFK on the lines recommended by the Adoor Gopalakrishnan Committee report.
6. All films that receive the above grant from the government should be allowed one week’s exhibition of one-show-a-day at prime time in the KSFDC theatres. This show should be exempt from the hold over condition followed by the theatre now.
7. Create pre-booking physical booths where film viewers can book seats for the screenings. About 90% of the seats in every theatre should be allotted in this manner.
8. Conduct audits of all financial and other activities of the IFFK and the Academy (KSCA). Also make the selection processes to all sections of films in the IFFK transparent and fair.