Even as the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES) gets underway on Wednesday, the exclusion of a few acclaimed films including Gantumoote, directed by Roopa Rao, has raised eyebrows.
The director confirmed that Gantumoote was entered in the competition section of Karnataka, Indian and Asian in the film festival, and added that she was surprised when the final list of films to be screened at the festival excluded it. "I understand that at times, films which are selected in other film festivals are sometimes left out. But I was surprised at the decision because the films selected, just like Gantumoote, were in many year-end lists of best films of 2019," says Roopa Rao, speaking to TNM.
She added that on Sunday, the organisers of the film festival reached out to her to include Gantumoote in a non-competition section - "Women filmmakers of Karnataka". However, the filmmakers have decided against screening the film in this section. "I remember this category was not there earlier. They (organisers) wanted the materials to reach them within a day but we were unable to comply with their request since the team members were travelling," says Roopa.
She adds that she received many messages in support when Gantumoote was excluded from the competition sections of BIFFES.
BIFFes calls #Gantumoote director Roopa Rao and offers to screen her film in "Women Directors of Karnataka" category. She politely refuses. Creating new non-competitive categories days before event is not the way to go @BIFFESBLR pic.twitter.com/nTmyL5uosc— ಎಸ್ ಶ್ಯಾಂ ಪ್ರಸಾದ್ S Shyam Prasad (@ShyamSPrasad) February 23, 2020
"Around the world, there are women film festivals and it is important to have specific film festivals for women filmmakers. However, in a film festival like this, we wanted to be part of the competition section since this is one of the few festivals that have Kannada films in specific competition sections'," adds Roopa.
Gantumoote was released theatrically after it was screened at diaspora film festivals like the New York Indian Film Festival and Melbourne Indian Film Festival. In New York, it won the award for the Best Screenplay. The film tells a coming of age story through the eyes of Meera – a high school student in ‘90s Bengaluru.