Nandigram shadow looms over Kolkata Film fest

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Kolkata, Nov 9: When the 13th Kolkata Film Festival gets underway tomorrow, the shadow of violence-torn Nandigram will loom large over the silver screen.

The weeklong carnival of 247 films from 56 countries usually sends film buffs into raptures, but a large section of the intellectuals will be absent protesting the ongoing violence in Nandigram.

The city's intellectuals have long been divided into two camps -- one spearheading a civil society movement against the state government's Nandigram and Singur policy and ongoing bloodbath in Nandigram and the other defending the ruling communists.

The KFF is organised by the state government under the patronage of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, an ardent film lover.

With filmmakers like Aparna Sen deciding to boycott the festival this year, it is a big face loss for Bhattacharjee who loves to hobnob with internationally acclaimed filmmakers during Kolkata's annual cultural event.

"I refuse to be a part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram violence which is worse this time," Ms Sen said.

"This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience. With a person of Sen's stature boycotting the festival, the message is loud and clear," noted playwright Kaushik Sen said.

The actors are members of the Artists, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals' Forum.

Ignoring the boycott, the festival is offering a smorgasbord of films from across the world and will have legendary Argentine director Fernando Ezequiel 'Pino' Solanos as the chief guest.

Solanos is scheduled to arrive here on November 11. Before leaving on November 13, he will address a seminar on 'Revisiting Third Cinema' at Nandan, Kolkata's state-run film complex and KFF's main venue. KFF is also scheduled to play host to the daughter of Brazilian filmmaker, theoretician and critic Glauber Rocha.

"The package this year includes socially relevant and aesthetically rich contemporary films," said the chief minister.

Mexican director Francisco Vargas Quevedo's "El Violin" (The Violin) is the inaugural film.

The eight-day spread will have special packages on Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Jean-Luc Godard, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, Rocha, Shyam Benegal and films based on the literary works of Dostoevsky and Alberto Moravia.

Amos Gitai from Israel and Shyam Benegal are also scheduled to attend the festival, which will have about 40 delegates from across the globe.

The Indian Select section has two Bengali films this year -- Agnidev Chatterjee's "Prabhu Nasto Hoye Jai" and Samir Chanda's "Ekti Nadir Galpo".

The film market -- an annual feature -- has been organised to celebrate 50 years of Bengali cinema. There will be an exhibition on Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni and Bismillah Khan.

"The festival's budget is Rs.12 million of which the government will provide Rs.7 million and Rs.5 million will be raised through sponsorships," the chief minister said.


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