A group of filmmakers and scholars have written a letter written to Arun Jaitley, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state for I & B and C. Senthil Rajan, Director of Film Festivals condemning the manner in which students of the Film and Television Institute of India have been treated at the International Film Festival of India currently going on in Goa. They have pointed out that ex-students have been arrested for protesting and one student was even put in preventive detention. The letter reads:
As members of the filmmaking fraternity and well-wishers of cinema in India, we would like to place on record our solidarity with the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), and our anguish at the way they continue to be treated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and its various departments. How the Directorate of Film Festivals of India has behaved with these students at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2015, currently underway in Goa is an example of this. From ex-students being arrested for exercising their democratic right to protest and false charges being framed against them, to being denied entry into the festival despite valid accreditation simply because they happen to be from FTII, to a student being put in preventive detention – these are measures that have nothing to do with the objectives that IFFI was set up for.
This year, the student package of films at IFFI has also been scrapped, the official reason being given for this is to have more slots available for repeat screenings of films. However, recent events lead us to believe that the decision clearly has to do with the 139 days protest that was led by the FTII students against the current government. The scrapping of the student package affects film students across the country and not just FTII, and is an act that is against the interests of the entire student community.
Students from the premier film institute of the country have a right to attend the International Film Festival of India – to get an opportunity to watch, interact and have conversations about their practice with the larger filmmaking community. By making it difficult to attend the festival, the authorities are in effect preventing the students from exercising their right to access education. This, to our mind, is the complete antithesis of what the International Film Festival of India stands for.
It is also condemnable that Section 144 has been imposed around the festival venue, and delegates at the festival are being unduly harassed for expressing their solidarity with the students.
We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the harsh measures that are being taken to stifle the participation of the student community at IFFI and demand that the students from the Film and Television Institute of India be allowed to participate in the festival, as it is their democratic right to do so. We also demand the dropping of charges against the two ex-students. We also demand that all cases filed against FTII students be withdrawn by the government. We, as a community of filmmakers stand behind the students of the FTII in their larger struggle.
Avijit Mukul Kishore
Dylan Mohan Gray
Merajur Rahman Baruah
Nitin K. Pamnani
Pinky Brahma Choudhury
Shoma A. Chatterji