Asian Age

‘Mithibai to Host Controversial Tibetan Film Fest’
(Asian Age | August 24, 2004)

Mithibai College could find itself in the midst of international politics as the college's film society has decided to host a festival of Tibetan films on August 25. The festival will include four films on Tibet, two of which were dropped from the ongoing Asian Film Festival or AFF, reportedly at the insistence of the Chinese embassy.

Professor Prabodh Parikh, chairman of the 25-year-old Mithibai College Film Society or MCFS, said, "However, it is bound to take a political hue as our move is a protest against the Asian Film Festival's decision."

"The Mithibai film festival is to support the Friends of Tibet or Friends of Tibet," he added. The Friends of Tibet had approached the AFF organisers with a request to screen some Tibetan films, including Martin Scorcese's acclaimed Kundun and Jean Jacques Annaud's Seven Years In Tibet. The AFF is being held in the city from August 21 to August 28. Professor Parikh said that the MCFS is not anticipating any trouble during the festival as their statement is not against the AFF but against the ill-treatment towards the Friends of Tibet. "The AFF is an established festival. We think they will just ignore us."

The organisers of the AFF, reportedly received telephone calls from the Chinese embassy in New Delhi and the Chinese consulate in Mumbai, asking to drop Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet, for taking a pro-Tibet stance and showing the troubled times in Tibet under Chinese occupation.

Denying that they received threats from the Chinese embassy, AFF chairman Sudhir Nandgaonkar had said, "The Chinese embassy did not threaten but requested me. There was a delay also in getting the prints of these two films." Friends of Tibet spokesperson, Aspi Mistry said that till August 9, the festival was to include the two films, but decided to drop it the next day. The MCFS film show will take place from 12 p.m. to 6 pm at the college auditorium, which has a capacity of 160 viewers.

Mr Mistry said, "Although it would be easier to get support and sponsorship from the US or British consulates, it would add political colour to the festival. We are only a support group for Tibetans, which sympathises with the Tibetan cause and the atrocities subjected to them. We don't want to involve ourselves in the geopolitical alignments of larger nations by approaching them for help in organising a film festival."