Filmmaker Sajin Baabu, a jury member of the South panel for the 69th National Film Awards, has accused the organisers of denying him an invitation to the National Awards ceremony to be held on Tuesday.

According to Mr. Baabu, he is probably being sidelined because he brought to light a procedural lapse on the part of Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) with regard to their submission for the 69th National Film Awards, a movie produced by the Corporation after the declaration of the awards.

“Out of the 31 jury members in the South panel from across the five States, all the 30 members except me have received the invitation for the ceremony. When I learned that my fellow jury members had received their invitation, I waited for a while and after receiving no official email, I tried contacting the National Film Awards cell last week. But all my phone calls, personal messages and official emails have not been responded to. I have not been informed of the reason for this exclusion. Even when fellow jury members and well-wishers have contacted the 69th NFA cell to understand the reason behind this, no clear reasons have been given to them either,” says Mr.Baabu.

He says that all of the jury members, including him, had dedicated considerable time and energy for about 20 days deliberating on the movies to be chosen for the awards.

“From my understanding, I can only assume the reason for this to be a Facebook post that I had written after the 69th National Film Awards were announced. The post was in Malayalam, and it brought to light a procedural lapse on the part of KSFDC regarding the violation of NFA Rules of Submission. Within a short time of sharing the Facebook post, I received a call from a prominent person of KSFDC. I made it clear to him that my intention was not to blame anyone. The person then told me he would talk to NFDC about it. A few minutes after that, I received an official email from the NFA cell that said that any disclosure of jury deliberations may lead to a ban on the jury member in the future. In my response email to them I made it clear that at no point have I disclosed any jury deliberations,” says Mr.Baabu.

The filmmaker had written in his Facebook post against the KSFDC – “I have always admired the Kerala State government’s projects to bankroll four films a year to empower women directors and filmmakers from marginalised sections. But from the beginning, there have been several complaints from women directors against KSFDC that have surfaced in the public domain. Most of the jury was impressed with the film, but it was later found that the film didn’t conform to the guidelines of the jury when it came to its duration. Why would KSFDC do such a thing despite being a well-equipped institution in the State? I don’t think this is an innocent mistake on their side.” 

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