BENGAL POLITICS IN SIKKIM: Court stays Sikkim show – Calcutta film festival loses sole fizz on Day One – meddling in a bygone culture for parochial reasons ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER
Calcutta, Nov. 11: 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 today.
With a district court in Gangtok slapping an “adinterim injunction order” on Sikkim, the 60-minute documentary slated for screening every day of a festival that lacks stars and substance, 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 of Sikkim moved court for a stay on the film’s screening over a copyright dispute. “We don’t know what the reasons are but we have contacted our legal cell to negotiate the matter. We will contest the matter from the state,” added Chatterjee.
There was no doubt this afternoon what the star of the festival would be. 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 ruler 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 between royals and commoners, prompted a ban on the film. A tedious process of procuring negatives followed and a copy of the original film in DVD format was made.
“We should feel proud that we have made history with the first public screening ofSikkim,” said Chatterjee. “And we’re not saying it won’t be screened again.”