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IFFI 52, 050: Post IFFI, FIPRESCI organises seminar on the closure of 4 media units, including DFF

IFFI 52, 050: Post IFFI, FIPRESCI organises seminar on the closure of 4 media units, including DFF

FIPRESCI-India, the India Chapter of the International Federation of Film Critics, usually holds its Annual General Meeting during IFFI, in Panaji, Goa. But in view of the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic, very few of its members, who are scattered all over India, attended IFFI 52, in November 2021. The meeting was, consequently held online.

Soon afterwards, the media was agog with reports that the recommendations of the Bimal Julka Committee have been accepted, and they consist mainly of merging four media units of India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the umbrella of the NFDC. Though FIPRESCI’s members are film-critics, they do organise seminars on topical issues that affect the film industry, film-makers and related matters, give awards, publish a magazine and hold film appreciation courses infrequently. 

On Sunday, 02 January, FIPRESCI organised a National Open Seminar (online) on the Government of India’s decision to close down the Films Division (estd. 1948), National Film Archive of India (estd. 1964), Children’s Film Society of India (estd. 1954) and the Directorate of Film Festivals (formed in 1973; film festivals were held on an ad hoc basis from 1952) by the end of January 2022, to merge those with the National Film Development Corporation (estd. 1975).

Mr. V. K. Joseph, President of FIPRESCI-India, chaired the seminar, and introduced the issue for discussion. Mr. Rahul Rawail, a member of the Bimal Julka committee, volunteered to join the seminar on learning about it, in spite of suffering from Covid, though he left around midway. Other eminent media personalities, film-makers, film historians, cinema teachers and critics who  participated in this Zoom meeting, included Mr. Amrit Gangar, Mr. C. S. Venketeswaran, Mr. Anil Zankar, Ms. Priya Krishnaswamy, Mr. Saibal Mitra, Ms. Meenakshi Shedde, Prof. N. Manu Chakravarthy, Mr. Sunny Joseph, Ms. Shilpi Gulati, Mr. Prateek Vats, Mr. Sudipto Acharyya, Mr. Rafeeq Ellias and this writer too, deliberated various aspects on the issue.

It was decided that an independent committee be formed soon, to take the matter to the students of various film schools, film industry personnel and the film-loving public in general, to apprise them about the contributions of these prestigious organisations, to the development of film culture and the film history of India, with a demand to make public the report of the Expert Committee, on whose recommendations this merger proposal is being hastily implemented by the Government, unilaterally, without considering the views and arguments of the stakeholders.

It might be worth mentioning that a Right To Information (RTI) Application was filed by a couple of young and concerned persons, but the Government refused to reveal the contents of the report. As many as 1,500 well-known persons had signed a petition, asking for the full disclosure of the report, but even their appeal was turned down. The clock is ticking, and the first of these measures is expected to be implemented by the 31st of January, just 27 days from today.

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