“Someone Has To Speak Up”: Israel Filmmaker On ‘The Kashmir Files’ Remarks

Nadav Lapid
Nadav Lapid

Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, whose critical comments on the film ‘The Kashmir Files’ at a film festival have kicked up a storm, has stood by him and said “somebody has to speak”.

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Mr Nadav Lapid, head of the international jury at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, said at the festival’s closing ceremony that the Vivek Agnihotri-directed film was “propaganda and obscene”. He added that the jury was “troubled and shocked” at the screening of the film.

He said, “It seemed to us like a promotional film inappropriate for the artsy, competitive section of a prestigious film festival.”

Many accused the award-winning filmmaker of being insensitive to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee the Valley at the peak of militancy in the 90s. Many wondered how someone from a community that faced the horrors of the Holocaust could make such a comment.

Speaking by phone to Israeli news website Ynet, Mr Nadav Lapid said,

“It’s crazy, what’s happening here. It’s a government festival and it’s the biggest in India. It’s a film that the Indian government, even if it didn’t actually make it, at least presented it in an unusual way.” It is basically justified. Indian policy in Kashmir, and it has fascist characteristics,” he said, according to a rough translation of the interview in Hebrew.

He said there are claims that the move has captured dimensions hidden by intellectuals and the media. “It’s always the same way – that foreigners are the enemy, and traitors on the inside.”

The film, promoted by leaders of the ruling BJP, has been a commercial success but has also faced allegations of inciting communal sentiments. Following Mr Lapid’s remarks, a section of social media users and public figures also pointed out that he had “put out the hype”.

The filmmaker’s remarks have also drawn strong criticism from Israel’s diplomats in India, with envoy Naor Gillon saying Mr Lapid “should be ashamed” and demanding his apology.

In his interview, Mr. Nadav Lapid said that when he was watching the film, he was shocked by “the transparent combination between propaganda and fascism and obscenity”. He told Ynet, “I couldn’t help but imagine an Israeli film like this coming out in the next year and a half or two.”

Asked if he anticipated a huge backlash to his statement, he said he was “apprehensive”. “It is not an easy situation, you are a guest, I am the president of the jury here, you are treated very well. And then you come and attack the festival. There was apprehension, and there was discomfort,” he said. said, adding, “Let’s put it this way: I’m happy to be on my way to the airport now.”

The filmmaker said if a foreign jury president talks critically about a film from his country, he will be “happy” even if it is “not a pleasant feeling”. “In countries that are rapidly losing the ability to speak their mind or speak the truth, someone needs to speak up. When I saw this film, I couldn’t help but imagine its Israeli counterpart, who exists is not but certainly may exist.” , So I felt I had to,” he said.

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