In turn of events, the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has come under scrutiny after Malayalam film director Christon Joseph, whose film “Menu” was submitted for consideration, raised concerns regarding the selection process for the Malayalam Cinema Today category of the 28th edition of the festival.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Joseph began by congratulating the filmmakers whose works were selected for the festival. However, he quickly shifted his focus to the selection process, expressing his reservations about its fairness and transparency.
According to Joseph, one of the selection committee members, Mr. O.P. Suresh, revealed that films submitted for the festival were screened from October 1st to October 15th, 2023. With approximately 149 films submitted for consideration, Joseph raised a valid point about the immense workload the committee undertook. He calculated that if the average runtime of these films was 90 minutes, the committee members would need to watch around 10 films daily, totaling an astounding 15 hours of screen time, not accounting for breaks, discussions, or delays.
One of the key issues that Joseph highlighted was the discretion of the Selection Committee regarding how much of each film needed to be viewed. He argued that it might be unfair for filmmakers if their work is not experienced in its entirety. He used the analogy of displaying a partially covered Mona Lisa, emphasizing that art should be appreciated as intended by the artist. Joseph questioned whether it was justified to reject films without a complete viewing, possibly missing their core essence. He also wondered whether extending the selection process over a few more days could provide justice to the filmmakers who submitted their work.
Joseph provided an interesting piece of evidence to support his claims. He shared the analytics page of his film’s Vimeo account, which showed that his film was neither streamed nor downloaded between September 30th and October 15th, with two legitimate downloads from Germany due to a festival request. He asserted that he hadn’t received any requests from IFFK to download his film, raising questions about how the Academy claimed to have downloaded it when the provided link was download-disabled. According to Joseph, this indicated that the Academy may have illegally downloaded his film using a third-party app without his knowledge.
In the wake of these allegations, the IFFK is under intense scrutiny, and Joseph has demanded a detailed explanation from the Chalachitra Academy, which oversees the festival.