Fest loses sole fizz...

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  • Published 12.11.10

The 16th Calcutta Film Festival lost its lone star on Day One with Satyajit Ray’s controversial documentary Sikkim being scrapped after a solitary show on Thursday.

With a district court district (north and east) in Gangtok slapping an “ad-interim injunction order” on Sikkim, the 60-minute documentary slated for screening every day of the festival, was pulled out.

“We received an email at 3.23pm from the district judge of Gangtok instructing us not to screen the documentary anymore,” said festival director Nilanjan Chatterjee.

The verdict came after the Art & Culture Trust (ACT) of Sikkim moved court for a stay on the film’s screening over a copyright claim. “The film festival organisers did not take permission from us and refused to listen to my request not to screen the film,” said Ugyen Chopel, the ACT managing trustee, who claims to have the original prints and the censor board certificate.

“The ACT is the rightful owner of the documentary and we plan to have a world premiere in March 2011,” added Chopel.

Sikkim screened on Thursday was a restored copy of the original in DVD format. The queue for the first screening of the Ray documentary was long and the anticipation palpable as Chatterjee introduced it to a packed Nandan I along with the film’s cinematographer Soumendu Roy.

The Chogyal and his American wife had commissioned Ray to film the documentary — that opens with the credit title “Government of Sikkim Presents” — on the mountain kingdom to “attract more foreign tourists”.

The depiction of monarchy, including scenes that portray the class divide, prompted a ban. “We should feel proud that we have made history with the first public screening of Sikkim,” said Chatterjee, vowing to fight for its next screening.