Expert panel recommends two-tier jury for national film awards

NEW DELHI: There is need to adjudge entries submitted for the National Film Awards at two levels – regional and central – and the number of award categories should be increased, according to the Expert Committee on National Film Awards headed by eminent filmmaker and member of Parliament Shyam Benegal.

The Committee said in the report submitted to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today that there should be a two-tier viewing of films by the Jury to facilitate the selection process. It has proposed a Central Jury and five regional Juries to cover languages in different regions. It has also outlined guidelines for the regional jury composition.

It has also been stated that in view of the need to fine tune the awards according to the emerging realities of cinema, new awards should be introduced in audiography, music, best screenplay and dialogue. In order to make the nomenclature of Awards more contemporary, the Committee has recommended the Award for Best Art Direction should be called Best Production Design. It has recommended the raising the number of awards in the feature film category from 31 to 34. The cash prize for special jury award in feature films should be raised from Rs 1,25,000 to Rs 200,000.

Receiving the report from Benegal who was accompanied by actor Sharmila Tagore and filmmaker Rajiv Mehrotra, Soni said the Ministry would now process the recommendations made by the Committee. Also present on the occasion were I and B Secretary Raghu Menon, Special Secretary Uday Kumar Varma, Film Festivals Director S M Khan and JS (Films) D P Reddy.

The Committee was constituted at the initiative of Soni to make recommendations for upgradation of the National Film Awards. The committee studied in detail the various categories of awards, mode of selection of awards by the Jury as well as the awards function.

The Committee has made some key recommendations for non-feature film awards. It has recommended that the awards for Environment, Agriculture and Education may be split in two categories: Best Educational Film and Best Film on Environment. The cash component of Awards for Best non-feature Film and Best Direction may be doubled from Rs. 100,000 to Rs 200,00 and brought on par with Feature Films. The Best Scientific film should be called Best Science & Technology Film. The Committee also recommended raising the Cash Component of Special Jury Award from Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000 and that of Best First Non-feature Film Award from Rs. 50,000 to Rs 1,25,000 on par with the similar award in the feature film category.

The Committee also consisted of Ms Sai Paranjpye, Ashok Vishwanathan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Nagesh kukunoor, Mohan Agashe, Ms. Waheeda Rehman, Jahnu Baruah and Shaji N Karun.

The National Film Awards were instituted in 1954 and aim at encouraging the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence, and social relevance, contributing to the understanding and appreciation of cultures of different regions of the country in cinematic form and thereby promoting integration and unity of the nation.

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