The Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) concluded in style on Friday after a week-long celebration involving cinema, stars and much more. Shabana Azmi was one of the star attractions at the closing event. The veteran actor expressed her thoughts on art and cinema as an instrument of social change, and the principles of the Constitution on plurasim, composite culture and freedom of expression. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too concurred with Azmi’s thoughts on unity and diversity and the importance of preserving freedom of expression and the Constitution’s democratic values.
In her address on the concluding day of KIFF, Shabana Azmi said, "I was raised in a family, which believed art should be used as an instrument of social change. I believe cinema has this ability and that can be possible if artists can be given freedom of expression. Cinema is such a medium, which has the power to open a window from where we learn about other cultures. Cinema is the focal point of such diversity." "The purpose of art is also to provoke and start conversations, on any subject considered taboo by the society. Any effort to curb freedom of expression will be resisted most vigorously," the Arth actor said.
“Today we speak about pluralism and composite culture, it is something India has always celebrated. Today, we hear the word inclusiveness from world leaders. We, in India, know that the Indian Constitution guarantees this inclusiveness. India celebrates its diversity and its inclusiveness,” Azmi was quoted as saying. She added, “There is need for freedom of expression in our country. Art should be given freedom of expression. Cinema has the ability to create a climate of sensitivity.
A documentary on Shabana Azmi’s father, late poet Kaifi Azmi was screened at the KIFF this year. She recited one of his Urdu poems to back up her opinion. "Roughly translated it means - you wil be greeted with storms when you make attempts to suffocate protest," she said.
Praising Shabana Azmi, CM Mamata Banerjee concurred, “I do appreciate Shabana ji for her expression about unity and diversity, which is our country’s origin and freedom of expression. We used to love it. I must say that in today’s time, we need freedom of speech and expression. We used to love it because without freedom of expression nobody has the right to speak or work. So, nowadays it is very much required and we feel that in future too, with the help of all the citizens of this country, we will uphold our Constitution, our constitutional and democratic rights.”
She continued, “Cinema is the mirror to the society, any step to curb the freedom of expression must be resisted.” CM also stated that her government had always supported the freedom of the artists. "Kolkata is the sweetest part of the world, where people belonging to every cast, creed and religion live together. Kolkata is the place of humanity," Banerjee said.
Guatemalan movie La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) directed by Jayro Bustamante won the award for Best Film in Innovation in Moving Images (international competition) category. Shabana Azmi presented the Royal Bengal Golden Tiger Trophy and a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh to the winners. Vaclav Marhoul received the Best Director award for Navarbene Ptace (The Painted Bird) in the same category. Shpia E Ages (Aga’s House) got a special jury award in the same category. In the Indian category, Ananth Mahadevan’s Mai Ghat Crime Number 103-2005 (Crime Number 103-2005) won the Hiralal Sen Memorial award for Best Film. Indrasish Acharya received the Best Director award in the same category for his movie Parcel. Aditya Kripalani’s movie The Goddess and the Hero bagged the The NETPAC award.
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