Jinko Gotoh, a BAFTA winner who served on the International Competition jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), made it apparent on Friday that she and two other members of the panel agree with Nadav Lapid’s assertion that The Kashmir Files (2022) is a ‘propaganda’ film.

Jurors Pascale Chavance, Javier Angulo Barturen, and Gotoh all signed a statement that was shared on Twitter under her handle.

Extending their support to Lapid, the post said: “We stand by his statement”.

This declaration was made at a time when many people were speculating that Lapid, a politically conscious director, gave his own viewpoint rather than the jury’s during the IFFI closing ceremony.

On Saturday, clarifying that the jury’s observation on The Kashmir Files was unanimous, the joint statement said: “At the festival’s closing ceremony, Nadav Lapid, the jury’s president, made a statement on behalf of the jury members stating: We were all of disturbed and shocked by the 15ths film, The Kashmir Files, that felt to us like a vulgar propaganda movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. We stand by his statement.”

Gotoh is a French documentary filmmaker, film critic, and journalist, whereas Barturen is an Oscar-nominated American producer. Chavance, the second jury member, works as a French film editor.

“And to clarify, we were not taking a political stance on the film’s content, we were making an artistic statement, and it saddens us greatly to see the festival platform being used for politics and subsequent personal attacks on Nadav. That was never the intention of the jury,” the statement further said.

“Sincerely, 53rd IFFI Jurors Jinko Gotoh, Pascale Chavance, and Javier Angulo Barturen,” concluded the statement.

One day after Lapid’s speech, Sudipto Sen, an Indian filmmaker and the only one of the five members of the international film jury, attempted to distance himself and the other jury members from Lapid’s remarks by emphasising that they were Lapid’s ‘personal opinion.’

The Vivek Agnihotri film attempts to portray the evacuation of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir after terrorists killed members of the community. The Bharatiya Janata Party government both in the centre and in the states has strongly approved the movie, despite the fact that many people have criticised it for its hateful representation of Muslims and distortion of history.

After the outrage over his remarks, Lapid offered a ‘total apology’ and said his aim was not to insult the Kashmiri Pandit community or those who had suffered.

“I didn’t want to insult anyone. My aim was never to insult the people or their relatives, who have suffered. I totally apologise if that’s the way they interpreted it,” Lapid, who has left the country since his remarks at the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of the festival in Goa this week, told news channel CNN-News18 on Wednesday night.

“But at the same time, whatever I said and I said clearly that for me and my fellow jury members, it was and it is a vulgar propaganda movie that didn’t have a place and was inappropriate for such a prestigious competitive section. I can repeat it again and again,” he added.

The acclaimed director, known for his anti-establishment stance, said his remarks were neither a statement on the political situation in Kashmir nor a denial of the tragedy.

“I have enormous respect for the tragedy, victims, survivors and for whoever suffers there. It (my remarks) was not at all about this. I’ll repeat these words 10,000 times if I have to say that I was not talking about the political issue, historical equation, or disrespecting the tragedy that happened in Kashmir,” he said.

“I was talking about the movie and that such serious topics deserve, in my opinion, a serious film… ,” he added.

A day after the controversy erupted, Agnihotri said he would quit filmmaking if intellectuals, including Lapid, were able to prove that events depicted in his film were false.

Asked to comment on Agnihotri’s statement, the filmmaker said it was a natural reaction from the “The Kashmir Files” helmer.

“I’m sure that the director is furious. I would be furious too if someone would talk about my film the same way. My films are often looked upon as very controversial and polemic. Certain people have said some very harsh and horrible things about my movies.

“The filmmaker knows very well that the question is not what exactly were the facts. None of us (in the jury), especially myself, ever doubted the facts. I don’t have any capacity, the tools to say what happened in Kashmir,” Lapid, who lives mostly in France, said.

Lapid came under attack not just by “The Kashmir Files” team but also several BJP leaders and Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon as well as its Consul General to Midwest India Kobbi Shoshani.

“Although he (Israeli ambassador) was absolutely aware of the fact that I was talking about the movie as propaganda, he blamed me for talking disrespectfully about the tragedy in Kashmir which is total nonsense. He is aware of it but he is a manipulator. He knew I was judging the movie as a filmmaker,” he told the channel.

Lapid thanked IFFI for inviting him to be the head of the international jury.

“But since I was called to Goa in order to serve as the president of the jury as I did in dozens of festivals, the biggest ones like Cannes, Berlin, and others. My duty, my obligation was to tell the truth as I see it,” he added.

(With inputs from PTI.)

By Shadab

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