Boycott Bhubaneswar Film Festival '07 sign now

Dear Friends,
I would like to bring to everyone's urgent attention on a disturbing trend emerging in Bhubaneswar amongst the film fraternity & media persons. Over the last few years more and more film festivals are being sponsored by corporations facing charges of gross human rights violations & environmental damage. The best example being Vedanta Alumina Ltd., a company that has been internationally hounded for its activities in Orissa. Vedanta sponsored Bring Your Film Festival in Puri two years back and now it has sponsored the Bhubaneswar Film Festival '07.

The timing of these festivals sponsored by Vedanta is always when the company is going through a tough time. The Bhubaneswar Film Festival '07 kicks off today, a week after the company was denied permission to carry out bauxite mining in the pristine primary forested Niyamgiri Hills by the Supreme Court of India on many grounds, a week after the State Pollution Control Board issued a notice to the company for affecting more than 25,000 villagers in 10 villages by the air and water pollution caused by its illegal factory in Lanjigarh and three weeks after the Govt of Norway withdrew its investments in the company for its malpractices in Orissa.

The people's movement against Vedanta has been raging for five years now. Many inncoent civilians have been beaten up by goons, and arrested under false charges. Vedanta's factory was built in the most dubious manner and many villages were forcefully displaced with ample support by district administration. Their villages were bulldozed while the police held them captive. Their cattle was shooed away and they have been put in a virtual prison since then which the company has termed Rehabilitation Colony. One local person was allegedly killed by the goons of the company for resisting displacement and protesting strongly against the atrocities of the company. Around the factory there are many stories of many deaths that have been hushed up.

As a headline in the frontpage of The Times of India questioned a week back "Whats good for Orissa, bad for Norway?", the same question can be put to the organisers of the Bhubaneswar Film Festival who choose to ignore the mishappenings in other parts of the state caused by their patron company Vedanta. Just google keywords like Vedanta, Niyamgiri, & Lanjigarh and one finds hundreds of webpages with adequate information on how the company has violated almost every law of the land in order to get its way ahead.

One can only guess if the organisers are ignorant partners in this 'consent manufacturing event' or not. Nevertheless, their disrespect towards other citizens of the state who are suffering due to the company's activities, cannot be more overt than the mammoth billboards plastered all over Bhubaneswar, advertising the film festival and Vedanta's name. These bilboards might create some goodwill amongst lovers of cinema and distract them from the real nature of the sponsors which is most certainly a planned strategy. Unfortunately these kind of festivals which are supposedly for the cause of meaningful & good cinema will incur more damage on society than the very meaningless & commercial cinema with whom they are fighting for space.

Though I have tried my best not to make this appeal to boycott the film festival to be a personal attack on the organisers I am compelled to mention that seemingly they have started to make a livelihood out of organising film festivals. In Orissa erring companies like Vedanta and Tata need all the goodwill they can and are more than happy to pay these people more than they ask for. Being a volunteer in some festivals in the past I am aware of how budgets are proposed to potential sponsors who are mostly companies with overactive PR wings (meaning they require more damage control) many times more than the actual cost

Inscreen Film Society of which I was once a part is also planning on a film festival next month in Bhubaneswar and it will not be a surprise if names like Vedanta or Tata pop up again alongwith as they have started the trend of manufacturing consent through film festival with BYOFF in Puri. Ironically BYOFF was born to liberate and democratise film festivals but has only proved to be facade for 'consent manufacturing'. Now Bhubaneswar Film Society is doing it with the Bhubaneswar Film Festival '07 from today without any regard for thousands of people in Orissa who might be displaced if Vedanta Alumina has its way. This film festival cannot be treated as a film festival, rather an advertising vehicle by Vedanta. I would call it a Trojan horse and would like to sincerely appeal to everyone to boycott such film festivals that disregard human life and nature.

With regards,
Surya Shankar Dash

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Latest Signatures

  • 09 October 201550. Claire P
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  • 03 September 201549. Rupesh K
    I support this petition
  • 04 August 201548. Gunjan J
    We condemn the corporate takeover of culture and art especially by those corporations that are creating social and ecological devastation.
  • 28 July 201547. Tapas R
    Corporate sponsorship is often the only or major source of funds for organisers of cultural events. For sponsors, it is a way of building image and forging links with the intelligentsia. If Vedanta's activities have such grave environmental and human cons
  • 19 April 201546. Pramod G
    I support this petition
  • 21 November 201445. Suchira Rush
    I think this practice of damage control is becoming universal since many corporates use their CSR for covering up the damages they create for the civil society... vulnerability is very contextual but we should not forget that that we may turn from being t
  • 28 September 201444. Gunjan J
    We condemn the corporate takeover of culture and art especially by those corporations that are creating social and ecological devastation.
  • 31 August 201443. Dharmesh S
    Any association with a criminal company like Vedanta is only reflective of the poor moral status of its associates.
  • 29 August 201442. Film L
    In ancient Rome corrupt rulers sponsored gladiator fights to distract people. In the modern world we have films, music & dance festivals. The organisers cannot be innocent, they are allies of criminal companies like Vedanta.
  • 01 July 201441. Sushovan D
    I support this petition
  • 02 May 201440. Vinod King
    Black listed companies use us and the public space to come clean of all their misdeeds and gain more public acceptance. Should we allow this to happen when we are fully aware that they have brought misery and pain to our people?
  • 16 January 201439. Jeny D
    this is atrocious
  • 11 December 201338. Sharmistha M
    I support this petition
  • 28 November 201337. Majid M
    I know why you are against Vedanta.Like other protest groups, you'll start this protest till you are paid well for that.After getting your money, you'll be happy.SUCH AN IDIOT YOU ARE.
  • 11 September 201336. Ruchika N
    I support this petition
  • 22 July 201335. Aljai S
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  • 21 May 201334. Mihir B
    Art cannot exist in isolation. It is a reflection of the society and times we live in. Existence and art can't be separated. I detest the company's open publicty via the Art medium. Increasing commodification is taking roots in the work of art, which show
  • 09 March 201333. Bipin K
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  • 28 February 201332. Steven Vanb
    Tribal Festival in Koraput sponsored by Nalco, BBSR Film Festival sponsored by Vedanta, and everybody's just buying it! In my country film festivals are sponsored by the government, press and banks at most. Not by criminal organisations who put profit and
  • 04 August 201231. Kulu Le
    Don't make the societies as shield.I belong to BYOFF. How dare you use our name in your nasty ambition?Do you have any idea what is the involvement of Vedanta in a film festival.What and how it's activities are involved in alliance with a society...can yo
  • 28 April 201230. Anuradha Mendoza
    I support this petition
  • 27 March 201229. Hellraiser Mcgrath
    are any of you personally involved with the film society ? How could you miss the prime sponsor Airtel ... that was not seen?A cultural event like BFF'07 requires quite an amount to create the awareness among you people.It has got all the sympathies for t
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  • 12 November 201126. Ravi H
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  • 15 October 201125. Aarthi S
    I support this petition
  • 14 September 201124. Shoma Ac
    I am apalled to learn that Nandigram and Shingur are not the only black spots on what is termed as the world's largest democracy. The Film Festival is just one of Vedanta's ways to appropriate the support of a large number of people both in Orissa and bey

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Alfredo MoodyBy:
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