‘Tibetan Films in Festival Test Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai Slogan’
(The Asian Age | August 21, 2004)
The Asian Film Festival, being held in the city from August 21 to
28, has become an arena for international politics. The organisers of the
festival are reportedly under pressure from the People's Republic of
China, to withdraw those films, which shows the troubled times in Tibet.
Fifty films from different countries in Asia were to be screened at the
festival. Sources in the festival organising committee said that the two
films, 'Kundun' by Martin Scorsese and 'Seven Years in Tibet' by Jean
Jacques Annaud, were taken off from its screening list.
They also said that the festival chairman Sudhir Nandgaonkar was asked to
not screen these two films for their pro-Tibet stance. Mr. Nandgaonkar,
however, denied that he was threatened by the Chinese consulate in Mumbai.
He said, "They did request me but there were no threats. There was a delay
in getting the prints of these two films."
Friends of Tibet or FoT, a support group in India had approached Mr.
Nandgaonkar in March this year, to include these films in the festival.
Friends of Tibet spokesperson, Aspi Mistry said that they approached the
local Aashay Film Society to organise a festival of Tibetan films. The
festival was to include Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet, along with
Bernardo Bertolucci's 'Little Buddha', Khyentse Norbu's 1998 release, 'The
Cup' and Brado Quilci's 'The Himalaya'.
Friends of Tibet was also trying to acquire prints of newly released
'Travellers and Magicians' by Norbu and the first Tibetan feature film 'We
Are No Monks' by Pema Dhondup, starring Gulshan Grover.
Mr. Mistry said, "The president of Aashay, Virendra Chitrav, told us that
organising a film festival needs considerable infrastructure and asked us
to approach Mr. Nandgaonkar so that a few Tibetan films could be included
in the festival," he said.
Mistry said, "On August 9, Mr. Nandgaonkar told us that he met the Chinese
consulate officials in Mumbai and held an emergency meeting of the
festival committee the next day. He said that none of the committee
members were ready to go against the wishes of these officials. He also
said that the foreign embassy threatened that if the films are not
removed, they will use diplomatic pressure on the Indian Government so
that it is not cleared by the censor board," he added.
Mr. Nandgaonkar denied the allegations and said that the situation is
being used to gain political advantage by the Friends of Tibet.
"If they are so sensitive above the whole matter, then they should
organise their own film festival. They are trying to gain political
mileage. Politics and films are two different issues," he added.