In a move which has triggered the age-old ‘seperate art from artist’ debate in the MeToo context, a popular Facebook community of movie aficionados in Kerala have decided to remove actors Dileep and Alencier from their list of annual award nominees for 2018.
The community in focus here is the Cinema Paradiso club - which was founded by a bunch of film lovers 7 years ago and has been noticed in recent times for awarding true talent in Mollywood, sans the usual dazzle and glitz seen in award shows.
This year, actors Dileep and Alencier Lopez - who have been accused of plotting a rape and sexual harassment respectively were in the initial list of nominees eligible to win awards.
However, after discussions which spread over several months, a decision was made to remove those accused of sexual harassment from the list.
“We are not passing any judgement against these actors. But a popular opinion arose that nominating these actors would be totally unfair to the victims they have been accused of harassment,” Arun Ashok, a member of CPC told TNM.
The awardee nominations for the Cinema Paradiso Club were done in two parts. Initially, a sweeping list of names of eligible actors were presented to the members for shortlisting based on popularity. Following this, the shortlisted actors names were sent to a 25-member jury panel which selected the winner.
Arun explains that it was in the long list of actors that Dileep and Alencier’s names had cropped up - Dileep in the best actor category for Kammara Sambhavam (2018) and Alencier in the Best Supporting Actor Category for several films. Both the names were struck down before the list was sent to the jury panel.
“The discussions first began when Alencier was accused of sexual harassment back in October 2018. The actor even admitted to the allegations later on. In Dileep’s case, the matter is sub judice and he is an accused in the high profile case. Therefore nominating him based on popularity, with the shadow of the sexual assault charges looming over the actor, would be inappropriate, we decided,” Arun adds.
To separate art from artist
Although several members argued against striking down the names of the actors citing that talent should be recognised in isolation, the stance taken by Cinema Paradiso Club’s members was with the awareness that it was sometimes impossible to separate art from the artist.
“Both these incidents happened within the realm of their workplaces - it happened within the film industry. The politics of it is very much a part of the work done by these actors. Therefore, we cannot separate the two,” the club members opined.
Additionally, several stars with skeletons tumbling out of their closet hide behind their popularity and get away with it, the club realised.
“Popularity plays a huge role in shaping public perception about the actors. Many times, fans and audiences, tend to ignore or trivialise the dark side of the actors due to their sheer popularity. This has happened with Charlie Chaplin, legendary directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski etc. In the West, where their achievements overshadow everything else. We had decided that this shouldn’t happen when we select actors for the awards,” Arun adds.
The members also discussed withdrawing the award presented to Alencier back in 2017 (the second edition of the awards). This was considered after Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey’s Emmy was withdrawn following sexual harassment allegations against him.
The members later decided that they would not do so with Alencier as the MeToo incident incriminating him had not taken place when the award was given.