Appeal against censorship at Indian film festivals sign now

An Appeal to the Government of India

Yamagata, October 12, 2005

We, the undersigned filmmakers, representatives of international film festivals, delegates, jury members, and organisers of the Yamagata International Documentary film festival are deeply concerned about the threat to the freedom of expression of documentary filmmakers in the South Asian region. We are especially perturbed to learn of the proposed new censorship policy for Indian film festivals which compulsorily subjects all independent film festivals (not funded by the government) to censorship. We are informed that though the new proposed policy exempts foreign films from censorship, all Indian films have to be cleared by the Indian censor board prior to a film festival screening, which is highly discriminatory. Apparently,additionally, the government retains the powers to reject any Indian or foreign film on grounds that it may affect law & order, foreign relations and security or integrity of the country.

We would also like to draw your attention to Clause 8 of the rules and regulations of the Mumbai International Film Festival 2006, reproduced below:

8. Selection of films/videos for Competition will be made by a Committee whose decision will be final. However, Festival Authorities reserve the right to accept or not to accept any film, if it is likely to offend the feelings and sensibilities of any country and /or promote racism or any other reason Festival Authority consider to be sufficient for acceptance or non acceptance of a film /video.

This clause, by giving the organisers the prerogative to override the decisions of a duly constituted, competent and expert selection committee, amounts to a violation of freedom of expression and is inimical to the promotion of good cinema. It has no place in a festival that is a significant public platform for documentary film in the South Asian region.

Similarly, for the International film festival of India (Goa), though there is no censorship for foreign films, local films participating in the Indian Panorama section need a censor certificate to even be considered for inclusion.

We sincerely urge you to remove this clause from the rules and regulations of MIFF 2006 and IFFI. We appeal to you to reconsider your new proposed policy that brings all independent Indian film festivals under the shadow of censorship.

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Gilda GayBy:
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Petition target:
Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Govenment of India

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