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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 03 November: THE 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) will kick off on 11 November but not even a single Pakistani movie will be screened.

This is even as China will be the focus country at the festival and altogether seven Mandarin movies will be screened. This is notwithstanding the frantic call for boycott of Chinese items that has gripped India in the recent weeks.

The organiser of the eight-day-long festival, the Bengal state information and cultural affairs (I&CA) department says that they wanted to screen the 1959 Pakistani classic Jago Hua Savera featuring noted Bengal actress of yesteryear Tripti Mitra but the plan has been shelved.

“We had planned to screen Jago Hua Savera but have not got permission from the distributor,” I&CA secretary Atri Bhattacharya told a news conference today that was convened to announce the festival schedule.

Bhattacharya did not explain why they did not choose any other Pakistani movie for screening at the festival. It is being widely speculated that the organisers do not want to invite any protest at the film festival in view of the strong anti-Pakistan sentiment since the Uri Army base attack last month.

The Mumbai Academy of the Moving Images festival had to drop the screening of Jago Hua Savera only a fortnight ago following protest threats by an NGO and strong sentiments in the Indian film industry to suspend ties with Pakistan.

Defending the selection of China as focus country, Bengal I&CA secretary said:  “This is an international film festival and there is no political colour to it. Every year any one country is selected as the focus country. Why should China be not selected?”

KIFF chairman, noted Bengali film maker Goutam Ghosh observed: “This is the age of intolerance in religion, politics, and culture. Cinema cannot solve problems but it can introduce people of one nation to another and lead to better understanding of each other.”

KIFF this time will saw the screening of 155 films from 65 countries and the screening will take place across 13 venues in the city that includes Nandan, Sisir Mancha, Rabindra Sadan, Roxy, Nazrul Tirtha (New Town), Navina, Inox City Centre-I, Mitra, Carnival Cinemas, Star Theatre, and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre(EZCC).

Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan will grace the inaugural programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium on 11 November. They will be accompanied by Kajol and Sanjay Dutt.

This year, KIFF has added a new competitive category ~ Innovations in Moving Images ~ to encourage use of new ideas and new concepts in movie making. Nine movies have been short-listed for this category.

This apart, a non-competitive segment ~ Biopics ~ has also been included wherein seven films on the lives of noted filmmakers will be screened.