Film selection process must be transparent

Yet again the choice of an ‘obscure’ film, Liar’s Dice, as compared to the more popular choices for the official Indian entry to the Academy awards, has rankled a few filmmakers. A 12-member jury, headed by eminent filmmaker T Hariharan, chose this movie out of 30 entries in multiple languages.

The Film Federation of India has been absolutely secretive about its selection procedure and the names of the members of the jury. For a while now, the filmmakers have been talking in hushed tones about their displeasure of not being kept in the loop about why a particular film is chosen over others. But it was only last year that their ire came out in the open when Anurag Kashyap and Ritesh Batra, who were rooting for their film The Lunchbox, openly declared their objection to the Federation selecting The Good Road instead. This year, it’s Hansal Mehta, the director of Shahid and Nilesh Navalakha, the producer of Marathi film Fandry, who have taken to social media to express their anger over the non-transparency. Both Shahid and Fandry were festival favourites, and were looked at as strong contenders for the official entry.

Possibly, the Federation has a noble motive in keeping its jury secretive, as they could be protecting the members from being hassled by filmmakers who are sure to start lobbying for their films before the selection process. And this might disrupt the unbiased choice of movies.

All the same, the Federation doesn’t seem to realise that in this age and time, when everything has become so competitive and aggressive, it might be a better idea to be transparent about why a particular film is chosen against other suitable films.

This will only continue to raise more discontent and distrust, as getting an Oscar is justifiably or unjustifiably considered the biggest accolade a film can get. The fact that none of the films selected by the Federation have managed to actually win the award most of them not even making it to the final five must mean something is going wrong somewhere. Probably a rethink is in order.

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