Apologies if my remarks were interpreted differently: Nadav Lapid on ‘The Kashmir Files’ controversy

Israeli filmmaker and IFFI jury leader Nadav Lapid, known for his anti-establishment stance, said his comments were neither a statement about the political situation in Kashmir nor a denial of the tragedy. File | Photo credit: PTI

Offering a “total apology” if his comments about ” The Kashmir Files was misinterpreted, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid has said it was not his aim to offend the Kashmiri Pandit community or those who had suffered.

Mr. Lapid, who was the International Jury President at the recent International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and caused enormous controversy by naming the Vivek Agnihotri movie download “vulgar” and a “propaganda”, reiterated that he only criticized the film for its “series of cinematic manipulations”.

“I didn’t mean to offend anyone. It was never my intention to offend the people or their relatives who suffered. I apologize if they interpreted it that way,” said Mr Lapid, who has left the country since his comments. at the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of the festival in Goa this week, the news channel said CNN News18 on Wednesday evening.

“But at the same time, whatever I said, I said clearly that for me and my fellow jurors it was and is a vulgar propaganda film that had no place and was inappropriate for such a prestigious competitive section. I can repeat it over and over again, he added.

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The Kashmir FilesWritten and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, it is about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits during the militancy in the early 1990s. It was screened at the festival on 22 November under the Indian Panorama section.

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The acclaimed director, known for his anti-establishment stance, said his comments were neither a statement about the political situation in Kashmir nor a denial of the tragedy.

“I have enormous respect for the tragedy, victims, survivors and whoever suffers [my remarks] was not about this at all. I will repeat these words 10,000 times if I have to say that I was not talking about the political issue, historical comparison or disrespect of the tragedy that happened in Kashmir,” he said.

“I was talking about the movie and that such serious subjects deserve a serious movie in my opinion…” he added.

Mr. Lapid also rejected the claims of IFFI international jury member Sudipto Sen, who had said that comments about Mr. Agnihotri’s direction were the Israeli director’s “personal opinion”.

“It wasn’t a personal opinion at all,” countered Mr. Lapid.

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“We all thought that the film used a series of manipulation, vulgar violence, because it had to convey a message that can cause animosity, violence and hatred in the environment,” he added.

A day after the controversy erupted, Mr. Agnihotri said he would stop making films if intellectuals, including Mr. Lapid, could prove that the events in his film were false.

Asked to comment on Mr Agnihotri’s statement, the filmmaker said it was a natural response from the ” The Kashmir Files” helmer.

“I’m sure the director is furious. I would be furious too if someone talked about my film in the same way. My films are often seen as very controversial and polemical. Certain people have said very harsh and horrible things about my films.

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“The filmmaker knows very well that the question is not what exactly the facts were. None of us [in the jury], especially myself, have ever doubted the facts. I have no capacity, the means to say what happened in Kashmir,” said Mr Lapid, who lives mainly in France.

Mr. Lapid was not only attacked by ” The Kashmir Filesteam, but also several BJP leaders and the Israeli ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, as well as the Consul General in Midwestern India, Kobbi Shoshani.

“Although he [Israeli ambassador] was absolutely aware of the fact that I was talking about the film as propaganda, he resented me for speaking disrespectfully about the tragedy in Kashmir which is total nonsense. He is aware of it, but he is a manipulator. He knew that I judged the film as a filmmaker,” he told the channel.

Mr. Lapid thanked IFFI for the invitation to be the head of the international jury.

“But ever since I was called to Goa to be the chairman of the jury, as I did at dozens of festivals, the biggest ones like Cannes, Berlin and others. My duty, my duty was to tell the truth as I see it,” he added.

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