Smriti Irani skips 71st Cannes Film Festival

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New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, who was due to inaugurate the India Pavilion at the 71st Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, skipped the event where a delegation of filmmakers and artistes are making strides to push the country’s regional films and further collaborations with other countries.

Irani, who was to lead the delegation, is caught up with work related to the 15th Asia Media Summit to be held here from May 10-12 as well as the Karnataka Assembly elections, informed sources told IANS. Irani was supposed to be in Cannes for a day.

The inaugural session of the Indian Pavilion was held in Cannes on Wednesday.

Hosted by actor Sharad Kelkar, it saw the presence of Indian ambassador to France Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Ashok Kumar Parmar, Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; writer, poet and Censor Board Chairperson Prasoon Joshi, Censor Board member Vani Tripathi Tikoo, Jerome Paillard, Executive Director, Marche Du Film Festival (Cannes Film Market), actress Huma Qureshi and filmmakers Shaji N. Karun, Jahnu Barua and Bharat Bala.

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The agenda this year is to showcase diversity in films in India and boosting co-productions.

Paillard said in a statement: “The Indian pavilion is a very important tool to help connecting the worldwide European and worldwide community of films.”

On the Indo-French cinema collaboration, Tikoo said: “It is a fantastic relationship we have had, both with the Cannes Film Festival and the French film industry. In recent times, films like ‘Tamasha’ and ‘Befikre’ were shot extensively in this part of the world and found great resonance with the narrative and storytelling between the two countries.”

During the inaugural address, Joshi said: “I am happy that the National Awards this year and the Ministry have taken special efforts in showcasing the regional cinema at such a platform. We should also reach out to young filmmakers who might not have access to a festival like this.

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“Let’s create many mini Cannes Film Festivals all around the world to help more and more filmmakers.”

This year, the India Pavilion, organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting along with Ficci, is showcasing four regional language films. These include Assamese film “Village Rockstars”, Malayalam film “Bhayanakam”, Bengali movie “Nagarkirtan” and “Sinjar”, a film from Lakshadweep made in Jasari,

Barua said India had great content in terms of cinema and so far only a little had been exposed to the world.

The Cannes Film Festival began on Tuesday and will conclude on May 19. Two films by Indian filmmakers — Nandita Das’ “Manto” and Rohena Gera’s “Sir” — are in separate competition sections at the gala, one of the most prestigious film jamborees around the world.

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