IFFI jury chief Nadav Lapid recently called Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Kashmir Files “vulgar” and “propaganda”. Later the IFFI distanced itself from its jury chief and said that it was “completely his personal opinion”. IFFI’s most recent remarks on its jury chief’s statement surfaced after Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon wrote a letter saying the IFFI chief should be “ashamed” over his opinion.

“As a son of a holocaust survivor, I was extremely hurt to see reactions in India to you that are doubting Schindler’s List, the Holocaust and worse. I unequivocally condemn such statements. There is no justification. It does show the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here,” an excerpt from the elaborate open letter written by Israel’s envoy to India read.

Earlier at the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of International Film Festival of India, jury head Nadav Lapid criticized Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files and said, “All of us were disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival.”

Later, Anupam Kher, who acted in the film, slammed the jury chief by tweeting, “We’ll give proper reply. If holocaust is right, exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is right too. Seems pre-planned as immediately after that toolkit gang became active. Shameful for him to make a statement like this.”

The Facts of the Matter

Since its release, The Kashmir Files has been part of some form of controversy. Be it its debatable historical accuracy, its depiction of different communities, or its support from the current ruling party, The Kashmir Files has been part of the news cycle, to say the least. The film is also one of the biggest earners of 2022, grossing over Rs 300 crores.


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IFFI Jury Chief Says The Kashmir Files ‘Vulgar’

Now, the film is back in the news, this time, for being called out as a “vulgar” and “propaganda” by the jury chief of International Film Festival of India (IFFI). IFFI jury chief Nadav Lapid further said that he was “shocked” at the film’s inclusion in the competitive selection.

“There were 15 films in the international competition — the front window of the festival. Fourteen out of them had the cinematic qualities…and evoked vivid discussions. We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” the jury chief of IFFI was quoted saying.

Lapid gave his speech before several Indian celebrities and leaders, who during the release of The Kashmir Files, had praised the movie. This included Akshay Kumar, I&B Minister Anurag Thakur, and more.


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Israel’s Envoy to India Criticizes Jury Chief’s Remarks

While IFFI jury chief Nadav Laipd’s remarks sparked a debate on social media regarding the film’s nature and its alleged propaganda, the Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon wrote an open letter. In his open letter, Naor Gilon criticized the IFFI jury chief and said that he was extremely hurt over his opinions regarding The Kashmir Files.

“In Indian culture, they say a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at IFFI Goa as well as the trust, respect and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you,” Gilon’s letter read.

Israel’s envoy to India also called IFFI jury chief’s opinions “insensitive” and “presumptuous” and called the Kashmir issue an “open wound in India”.

“As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship,” he further noted in his open letter.


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“Personal Opinion”: IFFI Distances Itself

Amid all the controversy, the IFFI has distanced itself from its jury chief’s opinions. “Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr Nadav Lapid about the film, The Kashmir Files, from the stage of closing ceremony of 53-rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion,” the IFFI’s statement read.

 

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