Comments by an Israeli filmmaker who is heading an Indian film festival jury have termed ‘The Kashmir Files’ as “obscene and propaganda”, sparking a huge controversy. The festival jury has said that its head Nadav Lapid’s comments are “purely his personal opinion”.
The board’s statement came after Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s remarks at the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Mr Lapid said yesterday that the jury was “disturbed and shocked” during a screening of the film at the festival.
“It seemed to us like a promotional film inappropriate for an artsy, competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel completely comfortable sharing these feelings openly with you here on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is also to acknowledge an .important discussion, which is essential for art and life,” he said.
Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, The Kashmir Files is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley at the height of militancy in the 90s. The film, promoted by BJP leaders, was commercially successful, but faced allegations of fanning communal feelings.
While some have praised Mr Lapid for “fostering propaganda”, others have accused him of being insensitive to the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits, despite being part of a community that faced the horrors of the Holocaust.
Amidst the controversy, the IFFI jury board today released a statement, saying that whatever Mr Lapid said about The Kashmir Files was his “personal opinion” and the board had “nothing to do with it”.
“At the official presentation to the Jury Board to the Festival Director and at the official press conference, where we 4 jury were present and interacted with the press, we never stated anything about our likes or dislikes. Both were our official collective opinion. “the board said.
“As a juror, we are appointed to judge the technical, aesthetic quality and socio-cultural relevance of the film. We do not indulge in any kind of political commentary on any film and if If so, it is entirely in individual capacity,” it added in its statement.
Among those who slammed the Israeli filmmaker is Nour Gillon, the country’s ambassador to India. In a Twitter thread, he said Mr Lapid “should be ashamed”. “You have abused the trust, honor & warm hospitality extended along with the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at @IFFIGoa.”
“I’m no film expert, but I know that talking about historical events before they’ve been studied in depth is insensitive and impudent and an open wound in India because many of the people involved are still around and are also paying the price,” the ambassador said. Added.
Actor Anupam Kher, who played the protagonist in the film, also criticized the Israeli filmmaker for his remarks. “May God give them wisdom. If the holocaust is true, then the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is also true,” the actor said.
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