Film industry bodies FFI & FWICE to boycott IFFI

NEW DELHI: The Film Federation of India (FFI) and the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) have jointly decided not to participate in the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) next month “as a mark of protest against the step-motherly treatment meted out” to the organisations.


In fact, the FWICE has issued a missive to cine artistes to not participate in the festival being held from 20 to 30 November and organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, which is a media wing of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.


A press note issued by FFI president J P Chowksey said, “The producers, however, will not be restrained from entering their films at the Festival as it is not our intent to hamper the functioning of the festival.”


It added that this “non-cooperation is also to extend moral support to the writers and film makers who have returned their awards. Though some members insisted on totally boycotting the festival, we are only resorting to the Gandhian way of Asahyog Andolan.”


FFI has been the Government’s “umbilical link to the Indian film industry. Ever since one can remember, it has been customary for the Government to consult FFI before taking any decisions that could have adverse repercussions on the existing relationship and the business of film making.”


The released added that till the turn of the 21st century and, perhaps, a major portion of its first decade the Government regularly turned to the Federation in all matters concerning films including festivals and international cultural relations. Inadvertent oversights were quickly seen to and always remedied to mutual satisfaction.


“Unfortunately what was once a strong bond gathering strength for over half a century or so is being severely tested, strained and threatened in the second decade of the 21st century. Today, FFI is either being ignored and sidelined. Without prejudice, it is our belief, that the top echelon in the Government is not fully conversant with the ground realities and is being misguided, or biased by information acquired by superficial research, information and from over-zealous, self-seeking individuals - at times from non film trade bodies,” the note said.


Referring to the present year and “the current heartburn,” the FFI said it had no representation in the IFFI Steering Committee for the first time in history.


This added to the callous, insulting behaviour meted out to the FFI president and vice president at IFFI 2014 has been a great source of embarrassment and shame, the note said. “As if this was not enough, the FFI president’s speech at the inaugural function was subjected to scrutiny. For over four decades FFI has been treated as a partner in IFFI/Filmostsav.”


The Government used to set up various committees - technical, theatrical, function et al - which always included FFI delegates to guide and advise on various activities of the festival. The FFI is unaware of any such committees now, if they exist.


“This smacks of Government’s total apathy towards FFI. A Ministry official took exceptional delight in harassing FFI’s representatives in connection with handing over the invites,” the note said.


In a hurriedly called Film Industry Coordination Committee Meeting by the Festival Directorate on 27 October attended by FFI members, members of the FWICE - an important component of AIFEC, and the Indian Film and Television Directors Association (IFTDA), “ire and resentment was expressed on the Government’s callous attitude towards film industry members which also included cine employees.”


In the last festival, a group of 200 cine employees were taken to attend the festival on invitation of the Festival Director in the Film Industry Coordination Committee Meeting. On landing in Goa, the group was not even given delegate passes to attend the festival. There was no reply to subsequent correspondence sent to the DFF by IFTDA.


“A festival that is meant to celebrate film ignores the film makers: inadequate number of invitations for events; sometimes even none. Seating is in far flung corners of the auditorium; while choice seats are given to non-film, administrative and other staff not connected with film making. This has been a sore point for last few years,” the note added.

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