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Art groups shun festival

Shillong, March 3: The Khasi Films & Music Welfare Association (KMFWA) along with the Society for Performing Arts Development (SPADE) has resolved to boycott the ongoing Indian Panorama Film Festival 2014, which began here today.

The associations felt that that while such festivals are important to promote filmmaking in the state, the Khasi industry itself is struggling for continuity.

In a statement issued by KMFWA president Bankhraw Sohtun and SPADE president Wankitbok Pohshna, the groups said there were reasons why the Khasi filmmaking industry was being adversely impacted.

There are at least 60 and 35 members of KMFWA and SPADE, respectively. The members comprise producers, directors, actors and wholesalers.

The groups said there was “lack of commitment” on the part of the stakeholders to address the problems of filmmakers, especially when local films were not at all being screened in cinema halls because of the huge amount of fees being charged by hall-owners. They also said there was lack of co-operation from the hall owners to encourage screening of local films.

In May 2013, they pointed out that the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner issued an order prohibiting screening of local films in cinema halls owing to complaints from certain quarters.

The complaint was that such local-made films are not being censored, thereby, keeping filmmakers in the dark, the groups said. They also said the only option left to have a particular film censored was to obtain a rating from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which itself was expensive.

“No doubt that CBFC rating is necessary, but when films are not easily made available for screening then opting to get a film censored remains baseless,” he added.

Moreover, the groups felt aggrieved that the state government has “not initiated” any step to improve the infrastructure for filmmaking in Meghalaya.

“Every filmmaker would indeed expect to produce good films from the state. However, there is no state-run film city to address the constraints in equipment. In such a situation, each production house has to depend on equipment hired from Guwahati, which is again expensive,” he said.

Alongside organising such festivals, the groups felt that the government should address the constraints which are hindering filmmaking in Meghalaya. At the same time, they said infrastructure was a necessity to make the abode of clouds a film destination.

The groups have resolved to meet chief minister Mukul Sangma to air the grievances faced by local filmmakers.