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‘India becoming fascist state’: Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan on #AwardWapsi

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New Delhi: Bemoaning the evaporating spirit of India’s secular, socialist and democratic Constitution, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan while returning his national award has warned that the country was at a crossroads and on the verge of becoming a fascist state.

“Today this spirit is evaporating. Our nation is at a crossroads. On one side is the secular path that our freedom fighters laid out for us and on the other, the path towards majoritarian fascism that the present regime seems bent upon. I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable,” Patwardhan wrote in an article published in Scroll.in.

The filmmaker opined that it was the duty of all thinking citizens to speak out before it was too late and that filmmakers were thinking citizens who could not look away.

When the government attempted to foist unqualified saffron administrators on the FTII, students there went on strike. The strike has lasted an unprecedented four months. In this period, people from all walks of life began to wake up to the unmistakable reality that the India they knew was on a dangerous new path, he wrote.

I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable.

The killing of rationalists, the hounding of whistleblowers like Teesta Setalvad and Sanjiv Bhatt, the denial of justice to victims of religious pogroms and caste based massacres, the emboldening of the religio-lunatic fringe and the impunity of those who kill or advocate killing in the name of religion is accompanied by the wholesale rewriting of history, the denial of scientific enquiry and the consequent production of a generation of dumbed down consumers for whom having an enemy to hate replaces their thirst for knowledge.

“So it is with a heavy heart I am returning my very first National award for Bombay Our City.”

He recalled back in 1985 even as he won this award the homes of people he had filmed were demolished. Patwardhan did not go to receive the award. Instead, Vimal Dinkar Hedau, whose home in Bandra had been demolished, went to Delhi to receive this award and distributed leaflets about the cause of the homeless. The prize money went to the slum dwellers movement.

“Today I am returning the medal. What do we want from this government? Not much. Just its resignation. Will that happen anytime soon? Not likely. What do we want from the people of India? Not much. Just eternal vigilance.”

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‘Visaranai’ brings curtains down for Fifth Edition of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF)

The festival also included few panel discussions and special chat sessions with veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and veteran screenwriter and filmmaker Saeed Mirza

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– by Sandeep Sharma

Dharamsala, November 7, 2016: The fifth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) came to an end on Sunday with the screening of National Award-winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran’s Tamil drama “Visaranai”, which has been named as India’s official entry for Oscars 2017 in the Foreign Language Film category.

Produced by popular actor Dhanush under his banner Wunderbar Films, “Visaranai” features Dinesh, Samuthirakani, Ajay Ghosh and Kishore in the lead.

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Based on the novel “Lock Up” by auto-rickshaw driver-turned-writer M. Chandrakumar, the film is about organised crime within the police force. It also throws the spotlight on police brutality.

The film witnessed a packed house in the Tibetan Children’s Village here. It struck the right chords with the audience, which included independent filmmakers, critics, local audience, tourists and movie aficionados.

The end of the film was marked by a loud applause and a standing ovation by the audience.

The four-day festival began with the screening of filmmaker Raam Reddy’s award-winning Kannada film “Thithi” on November 3 and screened 43 films in total from 21 countries including the US, Britain, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Germany and Bhutan among others.

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Taking place in the scenic locales of McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh, DIFF 2016 — organised by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam — showcased a collection of films that were diverse in theme, style and genre.

These included “Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building” — a documentary by Swiss director Steffi Giaracuni, and Vietnamese director Nguyen Trinh Thi’s “Vietnam The Movie”, which had their world premieres at the festival.

Few of the other films that were screened included Singaporean director Boo Junfeng’s “Apprentice”, Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s “Sonita” British documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister’s “A Syrian Love Story” and US filmmaker Mickey Lemle’s “The Last Dalai Lama?”.

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From the Indian turf, DIFF 2016 featured National Award-winning actor Girish Kulkarni’s Marathi road drama “Highway”, director Bauddhayan Mukherji’s “The Violin Player”, Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam action thriller “Kammatipaadam”, former CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur’s short film “The Guide”, Gurvinder Singh’s short film “Infiltrator”, Chaitanya Tamhane’s “Six Strands” and ace filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s short film “That Day After Every Day” among others.

“We’ve had amazing audiences who are really interested in independent cinema. It’s really heart-warming to see that,” Sarin said.

Apart from these highly appreciated films, the festival also included few panel discussions and special chat sessions with veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and veteran screenwriter and filmmaker Saeed Mirza.

Filmmakers and movie buffs are now in anticipation of an assemblage of diverse independent cinema in the next edition of the movie gala. (IANS)