More than 175 of the leading documentary filmmakers of India today announced a boycott of the Mumbai International Film Festival to be held in Mumbai in early 2004. This follows a decision by the organisers of the festival, Films Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India to introduce a clause which requires only Indian documentaries entered for the festival to be censored by the Indian Board of Film Censors. It may be pointed out that foreign films entered at the festival do not need to be censored.
It is an accepted practice world-wide that film festivals are arenas of uninhibited and creative expression. No international festival of repute censors films. It should also be pointed out that the organisers have already run seven previous editions of MIFF without this regulation.
Having come together under the banner of a “Campaign against Censorship at Miff 2004”, the boycott call by film-makers follows a six-week period in which every attempt was made to persuade the organisers to change their stance. No response was forthcoming. This is a shame because the festival was meant to promote the best of international documentaries and it can hardly claim to do this while it is simultaneously trying to muzzle the voice of the Indian documentary.
We would like you to join us in the boycott of the forthcoming Mumbai International Film Festival in early 2004. We believe that only the solidarity of our fellow film-makers, and the broader support of civil society will prevent the Mumbai Festival from degenerating into a narrow, conservative and censored charade.
Placed below is a brief text that we request you to immediately email to the following:
1 Festival Director, MIFF firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Minister, Information & Broadcasting, Govt of India email@example.com
3 Campaign against Censorship at Miff 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of Campaign Against Censorship at MIFF2004
TEXT TO BE EMAILED BY INTERNATIONAL FILM MAKERS IN SUPPORT OF THE CAMPAIGN
Solidarity with Indian film-makers in their Campaign against Censorship at MIFF 2004
We are shocked to learn that the Mumbai International Film Festival 2004 has imposed a condition which requires Indian films to be censored in order to be eligible for entry. This runs counter to the notion of free creative expression which is aabsolutely central to a film festival.
We support the Indian filmmakers who have decided not to participate in the festival till this condition is removed. We hope this will be done urgently so that the festival can be held in an atmosphere of creativity and cordiality.
As long as this condition exists, I will not send any film of mine to MIFF 2004. I will also inform other filmmakers to do the same.