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IFFI jury head Lapid emerges centre of furious debate over his comments on 'The Kashmir Files' 

IFFI jury head Lapid emerges centre of furious debate over his comments on 'The Kashmir Files' 

Published:29 November 2022

It was about diplomatic ties, political sparring and Holocaust recalls on Tuesday as Israeli director and IFFI international jury chair Nadav Lapid emerged the centre of furious debate over his comments on "The Kashmir Files".

New Delhi | It was about diplomatic ties, political sparring and Holocaust recalls on Tuesday as Israeli director and IFFI international jury chair Nadav Lapid emerged the centre of furious debate over his comments on "The Kashmir Files".
A day after the director described the film as "propaganda" and "vulgar", Israel's Ambassador to India Naor Gilon said he had abused India's invitation and should apologise while Israel's Consul General to Midwest India Kobbi Shoshani said the debate would strengthen India-Israel ties.
Lapid's fellow jury members distanced themselves from his views.
The controversy also saw "The Kashmir Files", panned and praised for its portrayal of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits during militancy in the early 1990s, back in the news with the BJP and the Congress at loggerheads, several actors such as Anupam Kher and Swara Bhasker weighing in with their views and a section of Kashmiri Pandits asking that Lapid be deported.
Agnihotri has compared "The Kashmir Files" to Steven Spielberg's Holocaust epic "Schindler's List". The 1993 Oscar winner was referenced by many people, including Ambassador Gilon who wrote an open letter put out in a series of tweets.
"As a son of a holocaust survivor, I was extremely hurt to see reactions in India to you that are doubting Schindler's List, the Holocaust and worse. I unequivocally condemn such statements. There is no justification. It does show the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here," he said.
Gilon added that Lapid -- who is viewed as an anti-establishment director -- should be "ashamed" as he had "abused in the worst way" the Indian invitation to him to chair the panel of judges.
"The Kashmir Files", which polarised opinions following its release in March and went on to become a blockbuster hit, was screened at IFFI on November 22 as part of the Indian panorama section.
Indian film director Sudipto Sen, who was part of the international film jury, the views expressed by Lapid were "personal".
"Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr Nadav Lapid about the film Kashmir Files, from the stage of closing ceremony of 53rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion," Sen wrote in a note shared on Twitter.
Sen said he and other jury members, including Spanish documentary filmmaker Javier Angulo Barturen and French film editor Pascale Chavance, made no mention about their "likes or dislikes".
BJP's Amit Malviya compared Lapid's condemnation of "The Kashmir Files" to the denial of the Holocaust.
"For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler's List a propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files. Truth eventually triumphs, no matter what," the party's IT department head said.
His colleague, BJP's Goa spokesperson Savio Rodrigues, said Lapid's statement "is an insult to the horrors faced by Kashmir Hindus (in the past)".
"You can critique a film artistically but to term the truth about the brutality faced by the Kashmiri Pandits propaganda is shameful," he added.
Agnihotri said he will quit filmmaking if intellectuals, including Lapid, are able to prove that events depicted in his film are false.
"I challenge the world's intellectuals and 'urban Naxals' as well as the great filmmaker who came from Israel if they can prove that any shot, dialogue or event of 'The Kashmir Files' is not absolute truth, I'll stop making films. I'm not someone who will back down. Issue as many fatwas as you want, but I'll keep fighting," the Indian filmmaker said in a video statement shared on his official Twitter page.
Kher, who starred in "The Kashmir Files", hit out at the Israeli filmmaker calling him a "person who himself is vulgar and an opportunist".
"If he himself does not like a film, you are most welcome to say it. But if you are a jury member, you cannot use words like 'vulgar', 'propaganda'. The world has identified with the film, the pain and problems of Kashmiri Pandits which have been going on for the last 32 years," he said at a press conference with Shoshani.
The Consul General said the "The Kashmir Files" is not propaganda but a "strong movie" that gives place to sufferings of the people of Kashmir.
"When somebody opposes certain things, you discover how together the two countries are. The brilliant gesture by the consul general to come here proves that this is a relationship. And it is a relationship of pain because both the countries have suffered exodus and Holocaust, which is the truth," Shoshani said, adding that he called Kher in the morning to apologise for Lapid's remarks.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit called on Union minister Thakur to seek "serious action" against Lapid and said choosing as international jury head was a lapse on the part of the festival organisers.
"Dear @ianuragthakur ji . I as a #KashmiriPandit & who is a victim of genocide seek a serious actn agnst Mr. #NadavLapid Jury head of IFFI 2022 fr calling d depiction of our tragedy as vulgar . Hs hs added salt to our wounds&hence shld b made to tender a apology .#KashmirFiles (sic)," he wrote.
Kashmiri Pandits, whose parents were killed by terrorists in the Valley, lashed out at the Israeli film director and demanded that Lapid be immediately deported from the country.
"'The Kashmir Files' unmasked the 30-year-old propaganda designed to hide the truth on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Does he know my pain? I lost my father when I was a child. My father, along with two of his lecturers, were brought down from a bus and sprayed with a volley of bullets," Vikas Raina, son of principal Ashok Kumar Raina, who was killed by Hizbul Mujahideen, said.
There were also some who spoke up for Paris-based Lapid, known for his award winning film "Synonyms".
Hate gets called out, eventually, said Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.
"PM Modi, his govt, BJP, the RW ecosystem feverishly promoted 'The Kashmir Files'. A movie rejected by International Film Festival Of India. Jury Head Nadav Lapid called it 'propaganda, vulgar movie - inappropriate for the film festival'," Shrinate tweeted.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi shared a video link of the Israeli filmmaker's speech where he criticised "The Kashmir Files".
"A sensitive issue of justice for Kashmiri Pandits was sacrificed at the altar of propaganda. This is a must listen segment at the #IFFIGoa2022," Chaturvedi said.
Actor Swara Bhasker, known for being unabashedly vocal about her opinions, shared a link to the news story about Lapid's remarks at the closing ceremony of the film gala.
"Apparently it's pretty clear to the world," Bhasker wrote in the caption.
Written and directed by Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios, "The Kashmir Files" was called out for its problematic politics by a section of critics and authors when it was released but performed exceptionally well at the box office by minting over Rs 330 crore.
The movie also sparked debate among political parties after several BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, gave it exemption from entertainment tax.



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