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Banned documentary makers to drag I&B min to Kerala HC

Debarred from screening at Kerala film fest, 'In the Shade of Fallen Chinar' team, along with two other filmmakers, move HC against I&B Ministry

Stills from In The Shade Of Fallen ChinarStills from In The Shade Of Fallen Chinar

Upset at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's decision to stall the screening of his Kashmir-themed film at the upcoming International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, director Shawn Sebastian and co-director Fazil NC have approached the Kerala High Court for relief.

"Four films have been banned by the Ministry," said Sebastian, whose 16-minute documentary titled In The Shade Of Fallen Chinar puts the spotlight on a conflict-torn Kashmir through the eyes of young artists.

Shawn Sebastian
Shawn Sebastian

"We approached the High Court on Monday for interim relief so that we can screen the film. The hearing is scheduled to take place today. Given the support that we have received, I am certain the decision will be in our favour," he added.

Denying reports of having been informed about the reason behind the ban, Sebastian says, "We were only told that our film won't be screened. The Ministry hasn't pointed out any objectionable material. This arbitrary denial is unconstitutional."

Apart from Sebastian's documentary, Ramchandra PN's 45-minute-long, The Unbearable Being Of Lightness, that looks at Hyderabad University research scholar Rohith Vemula's suicide has also faced the axe. Plus, there is Kathu Lukose's March, March, March, based on the Jawaharlal Nehru University protests, and Muhajir, which revolves around a labour camp in the Gulf.

A source from the Ministry says, "Their works were provocative, and will not pass the censor regulations. [Sebastian's] film violates the guidelines. It's a prerequisite that films don't threaten national security or national integrity."

Although Sebastian's short may not make it to the festival (June 16 to 20), it has been available on YouTube since June 2016. A release on a public podium, asserts Sebastian, will be instrumental in sparking-off an essential discussion. "All the films that have been banned deal with a revolutionary voice of the youth and their issues with political agendas," Sebastian said.

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