The Kerala government, on Tuesday, announced the cancellation of all State-sponsored arts and cultural events in the region for a year, due to the floods that devastated the State in August. According to the official order issued by the General Administration Department, the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and the State Schools Arts Festival will not be held this year, and the funds allocated for these festivities will be directed to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
Among the people who have expressed disappointment in this decision is AK Balan, the State’s Minister for Cultural Affairs. In a letter sent to the Chief Secretary of the State, he said that the cancellation of cultural events would cause an air of gloom in the state. Filmmaker Kamal, who is the chairman of Kerala Chalachitra Academy, told Silverscreen that the government’s move was unexpected. “Contrary to usual practice, this decision wasn’t taken in consultation with the cabinet. The Chief Minister, we hear, signed the order before leaving for the United States for medical treatment. It was through the general administration department, the Cultural Affairs Minister, Tourism Minister that the Academy came to know of this,” said Kamal.
Any official discussion on this matter will take place only after the return of the Chief Minister, said Kamal. “While I understand that the Chief Minister took this decision as part of an overall policy of the State government to avoid celebrities and focus entirely on ‘rebuilding Kerala,’ I think conducting these cultural events are important. Tourism sector could really be affected. As someone who has always looked forward to the film festival every year, I am slightly disappointed. It is a cultural get-together Kerala celebrates like no other,” he said.
Filmmaker Biju Kumar Damodaran, via a Facebook post, opined that instead of cancelling IFFK, the government should have regarded it as part of State-rebuilding activity. “Use art to re-instill hope and optimism in people,” he said.
This year, the 23rd edition of IFFK was scheduled to take place at the regular venue in Thiruvananthapuram in December.