Director of Children of Heaven, Majid Majidi, will be the jury chairman of this yearâ€™s International Film Festival of Kerala. The renowned Iranian filmmaker will be heading the jury for the international competition category. His controversial film Muhammad: The Messenger of God will also be screened at the festival.
The film that released in 2015 is about the childhood of Prophet Muhammad, and is also the biggest budget production in Iranian cinema. The film met with criticism from Arab countries which called for its ban. Even AR Rahman, who composed the music for this film, has faced criticism in India.
But Majid Majidi said in an interview that the ban was called for by Saudi authorities and religious scholars who had not watched the film. He had asked religious scholars to see the film and was ready to act on their observations, he said. He had spent seven years working on the film, consulting Sunni and Shiite scholars and researching in every Muslim country, obtaining permissions, Majid said.
Interestingly, Majid who has made such acclaimed films as The Colour of Paradise and The Song of Sparrows had pulled out of a Danish Film Festival once, protesting against the publication in Denmark of cartoons criticising Prophet Muhammad.
Other members of the jury at IFFK this year are Tamil filmmaker Vetrimaaran, Marathi director Umesh Kulkarni, and Filipino director Adolfo Alix Jr. Vetrimaaranâ€™s Vada Chennai, Umeshâ€™s Highway, and Adolfâ€™s Dark is the Night will also be screened at the festival under the category Jury Films.
The Kerala Chalachitra Academy is putting together the festival that was initially cancelled following the floods that hit the state in August. But once they got the nod to go ahead, the Academy had been on its toes getting the funds ready, getting the films, the facilities. They have given out a few names in the competition category â€“ Malayalam films Ee Ma Yaw and Sudani from Nigeria, and two other Indian films - Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (Taking the Horse to eat Jalebis) and Widow of Silence.