Thursday, May 6

Mamata, Shabana bat for freedom of expression at KIFF closing ceremony; Big B sends video message

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Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and actor Shabana Azmi spoke out for freedom of expression during the closing ceremony of the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival on Friday. Azmi, who was the chief guest at the closing ceremony, said cinema is the mirror of the society and there should not be any attempt to stifle the voice of the society.

“Any attempt to curb freedom of the artists will not be accepted. It will be resisted,” said Azmi. Quoting her father Kaifi Azmi, she said storms take place when there is an attempt of suffocating protest. She wanted that pluralism in Indian society — guaranteed by the Constitution of INdia — must prevail. “Without the existence of composite culture, inclusiveness will be at stake. We in India celebrate diversity. It is a right,” said the actor.

Azmi, who is now working in a project with Steven Spielberg, said while shooting for it in Budapest, she saw the microcosm of the universe there, as people of different nationalities participated and saw how cinema is considered to be the focal point of diversity.

She added that in cinema, the climate of sensitivity should prevail. She also appreciated the CM’s attempt to give financial incentive to the directors as she handed over the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award for the best film — ‘La Llorona’ (The Weeping Woman) — to Jayro Bustamante. The award included a cash award of Rs 51 lakh. The Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award for the best director went to Vaclav Marhoul for ‘Nabarvene Ptace’ (The Painted Bird), which won a cash award of Rs 21 lakh.

The chief minister said cinema cannot exist without liberty, freedom and expression and nobody has the right or authority to curb it. “Now, we have to tell everybody that the democratic rights are upheld by the Constitution and it cannot be curbed. The cinema displays lives of people and there lies the success of cinema,” said Banerjee.

Amitabh Bachchan, who had been invited to inaugurate the 25th KIFF on November 8, but could not make it due to his ill health, sent a video message, in which he conveyed his apology to the audience. It was displayed at the closing ceremony. In his speech, he said cinema should always be screened in theatres first and then it should go for other digital media.


Source: Times of India

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