IFFI campus for films, not politics: Festival director

Panaji, Nov 25 (IANS) The IFFI campus is for cinema and not for politics, IFFI festival director C. Senthil Rajan said on Wednesday, rejecting charges made by protesting FTII students and sympathisers that they are being victimised.

Breaking his silence for the first time on the FTII protest issue, Rajan also told IANS that the entire students’ films section was dropped from IFFI in order to accommodate repeat film screenings on public demand at the festival.

“They have not stopped any delegate or any film student who just came here to watch movies. Our objective is to showcase films. This is not a political arena or a protest arena for people to come in to protest.

It is an arena for showcasing films. We have been very clear in that and we have not stopped anybody who wanted to come and enjoy films in the arena,” Rajan said while thanking Goa Police for sensitively handling the FTII protest issue.

FTII students had staged a 139-day strike from June 12 this year, in protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman, claiming the artiste was unfit for the position.

After the appointing authority, the union ministry for information and broadcasting, stuck to its guns and did not cancel Chauhan’s appointment, the students called off the strike on October 29, but also insisted that their protests would continue.

A spokesperson for the FTII students said over two dozen students were denied registration for the International Film Festival of India, two ex-students were arrested for protesting at the inaugural and one student was detained for several hours by the police for wearing a tee-shirt with the FTII logo at the festival campus.

FTII sympathisers have also started a two-day parallel film festival, featuring films made by students, in protest against IFFI, at a short distance from the venue of the international event.

Rajan also said that contrary to allegations made by FTII students and alumni, registration of an FTII student was cancelled in only one case, that too when a student threatened to disrupt the international event.

“The number of student delegates we have registered is four hundred and out of that we also have FTII students we have registered. Personally, we have cancelled only one registration of a student who has told the police that ‘I will come inside the venue and protest’,” Rajan said.

The festival director said an entire student film section in the festival’s programming had been sacrificed to accommodate repeat screenings of films as demanded by delegates.

“The media has been writing that we have dropped the FTII student package. We have not dropped FTII student film package, we have dropped the entire student film package, which actually comes from different film schools, not just FTII. It has been dropped only to accommodate IFFI repeats,” Rajan said.

“It’s (IFFI student film section) not that we have sacrificed it, it’s only an issue of taking the best,” he added.

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