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“It’s funny… the juries promote films that we find shocking, disturbing”


American sociologist and University of Sydney professor Salbatore Babones called “funny” the line “The Kashmir Files” at IFFI 2022.

New Delhi: In an enigmatic tweet, American sociologist and professor at the University of Sydney Salvatore Babons called ‘The Kashmir Files’ line at IFFI 2022 ‘funny’. Reacting to the protests against the Israeli filmmaker and head of the film festival’s jury, Nadav Lapid said: “Film festival juries usually revel in promoting films that the rest of us find shocking and disturbing.

Calling Vivek Agnihotri made “The Kashmir Files” a “propaganda and vulgar” film, Lapid said he was “shocked and disturbed” by its inclusion in the competitive section.

Less than a month after ‘The Kashmir Files’ was released, Babones wrote an opinion on the film in which he said: ‘The Kashmir Files’ focuses on a particularly intense episode of separatist violence in Kashmir in 1989- 1990. He oscillates between this bloody episode and the student elections in the best Indian university. The film’s protagonist is a Hindu university student who discovers that his Kashmiri Pandit parents have been killed by Muslim terrorists.

In his article, he called “The Kashmir Files” Australia’s most controversial film, which was shown in English in the country. Notably, the film in April this year peaked at number 5 on the Australian box office charts.

Babones, in his article, called Kashmir a region that is “still a religious pressure cooker that would be controversial enough.” Speaking in more detail about the film, he said, “The violence portrayed (in the film) may be high impact, but it was real.”

“The film tells the story of the pundits of Kashmir, not the whole troubled history of modern India…. But writer, director and co-producer Vivek Agnihotri clearly intended to politicize the fate of the Pandits, and he certainly succeeded,” he added.

Nadav Lapid’s ‘controversial’ statement on ‘The Kashmir Files’

Delivering his speech at the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of IFFI in Goa, Lapid said, “I would like to thank the head of the festival and the director of programming for the cinematic richness of the program, for its diversity, for its complexity. It was intense. We saw seven films in the beginner competition, and 15 films in the international competition, the showcase of the festival. 14 of them had cinematic qualities, flaws and evoked heated discussions,” Lapid said in his speech.

“We were all disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. It felt like a propaganda film, vulgar, inappropriate for a competitive artistic section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel completely comfortable to openly share these sentiments here with you at this point. In the spirit of this festival, we can certainly also accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and life,” he added.

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