Rituparno boycotts film fest to protest Nandigram

Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh followed compatriot Aparna Sen and boycotted the 13th Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) to protest against the violence in West Bengal's Nandigram and the Left government's "inaction".

Ghosh communicated his decision through the Forum of Artistes, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals (FACAI). The festival began Saturday.

"Ghosh communicated to us that he would not attend the festival to protest the Nandigram violence and the silent role of police and the administration as people were being brutalised and killed there," Ajanta Ghosh, spokesperson of FACAI, told IANS.

"He said he was not on the forefront of the Nandigram movement but had always supported the cause and would not be a party to a festival organised by the same government that failed to act and protect the lives of the people," Ajanta Ghosh quoted the filmmaker, who has made the Aishwarya Rai-starred "Chokher Bali", as saying.

Rituparno Ghosh, whose film "The Last Lear" starring Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta is slated for release, has been writing in a Bengali daily against the land acquisition attempts of the government since the protests started in Singur in Hooghly district against a Tata Motors small car project.

The film festival will see 247 films from 56 countries being screened. A section of the city's film fraternity is keeping away to register their protest against the Nandigram violence.

The city's cultural world is divided into two camps - one is spearheading a movement against the government's policy on Nandigram and Singur as well as the violence in Nandigram. The other is defending the communists.

The festival is organised by the government under the patronage of culturally inclined Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, an ardent film lover.

"I refuse to be a part of the festival in the backdrop of the Nandigram violence," Aparna Sen had said earlier.

Among other noted artistes boycotting the event are playwright and film and serial actor Kaushik Sen and playwright Saoli Mitra.

"This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience. With a person of Aparna Sen's stature boycotting the festival, the message would be loud and clear," said Kaushik Sen.

"We cannot attend a festival organised by a government organising the Nandigram violence," said Saoli Mitra.

Nandigram has been hit by increased violence since over a week with the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) launching a massive offensive against the Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) to regained lost bases there. CPI-M cadres have been entering village after village and allegedly torching houses belonging to the rival groups. The BUPC is opposed to acquisition of land by the government for industry.

While the CPI-M maintains that peace is returning to Nandigram, human rights activists and political opponents dispute this.

The death toll in violence in Nandigram has risen to 32 since January when the region flared up over a proposed land acquisition programme for a special economic zone (SEZ). The government axed the plan following stiff resistance.

However, a turf battle has continued to rage in Nandigram between CPI-M and BUPC.

Indo-Asian News Service