The jury board of the 53rd International Film Festival of India has distanced itself from its chief, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s comments on ‘The Kashmir Files’, terming them “his personal opinion”. The filmmaker had called director Vivek Agnihotri’s divisive film “vulgar and propaganda driven” during the IFFI closing ceremony on Monday. His fellow juror Sudipto Sen has now tweeted the board’s statement, saying the comments were Nadav’s opinions and not a collective opinion of the group.
Sudipto wrote a letter on his social media account, in which he clarified that the jury collectively didn’t have the same opinion as Nadav. He wrote, “Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr. Nadav Lapid about the film Kashmir Files, from the stage of closing ceremony of 53-rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion. In the official presentation of the Jury Board to the Festival Director and in the official Press Conference, where we 4 juries (the fifth jury had to leave for her personal emergency) were present and interacted with the press, we never mentioned anything about our likes or dislikes. Both were our official collective opinion”.
— Sudipto SEN (@sudiptoSENtlm) November 28, 2022
He added in the note, “As juror, we are assigned to judge the technical, aesthetic quality and socio-cultural relevance of a film. We don’t indulge in any kind of political comments on any film and if it is done, it is completely in personal capacity – nothing to do with the esteemed Jury Board”.
In his speech Nadav had said, “We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival…”
On Tuesday, the Ambassador of Israel to India, Naor Gilon, criticised Nadav for his comments and said that he exploited his invitation to IFFI. Naor, in a long Twitter thread, wrote, “In Indian culture, they say a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at IFFI Goa as well as the trust, respect and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you. I’m no film expert but I do know that it’s insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them, and which are an open would in India because many of the involved are still around and paying the price.”
An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/8YpSQGMXIR
— Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
He also wrote that what Nadav thinks is bravery is causing trouble for his team. “You will go back to Israel thinking that you are bold and “made a statement”. We, the representatives of Israel, would stay here. You should see our DM boxes following your “bravery” and what implications it may have on the team under my responsibility,” he wrote.
Besides Naor Gilon, The Kashmir Files’ actors Anupam Kher and Ranvir Shorey also criticised Nadav’s comments on the film. The controversial film emerged as one of the box office successes this year and was made tax free in several states in India. Many political leaders also encouraged people to watch it. The film revolves around the exodus and mass killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in the 1990s.