Indian Panorama jury rues lack of women on panel

At the press conference of the Indian Panorama jury members at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), one couldn’t help but notice the male-heavy presence. The only lady present was filmmaker Parvathi Menon, who was one of the non-feature jury members.

When asked about the composition of women in the jury, Rahul Rawail, chairman of the feature jury, Indian Panorama, said, “Unfortunately this time there were no women in the [features] jury. I did raise this question. Apparently, they could not identify a woman member [to be part of the jury].”

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The members rued that need for availability for a whole month could be the reason no female member could be part of the jury.

Malayalam filmmaker and actor Major Ravi, who is part of the feature jury, said, “Three years back I was on jury and there were three women.” He went on to add that the reason for this year having no females on the jury was the last minute rush.

“The PIB office was burnt. They are putting things together. They didn’t have time. People were shooting. We were disappointed. We need women to smoothen things up,” he said. Rawail interjected him saying they must have women participating in the selection process.

Speaking to us after the session, Menon laughed it off saying, “I think we women are in short supply.”

When asked about reports that some films didn’t make the cut for being “anti-national”, Rawail was defensive saying it must have been a misquote by the media and they were left surprised at it. Before the festival started, director Ujjwal Chatterjee, who is part of the feature jury had said in an interview that the team had “rejected six to seven anti national films”.

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“I don’t know who used the term ‘anti-national’. I don’t believe this was quoted ad verbatim. All deliberations of the jury are held within closed door rooms,” he said.

Major Ravi added: “We cannot ever say that it was because of this ‘anti-national’ elements that we rejected a film. Yes, we fought within the jury tooth and nail and one person having such kind of feeling is just absurd.” Vinod Ganatra, chairman of the non-feature jury said that all entries were Indian, not national or anti-national.

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