A group of film lovers and free speech activists stood like a rock and thwarted the bid of saffron groups to stall the screening of highly acclaimed documentary 'Ocean of Tears' at VIBGYOR International Film Festival in Thrissur, Kerala on Friday.
A heart-wrenching documentary, Ocean of Tears focuses on sensitive and controversial subjects including the alleged mass rape of over 24 women of Kunan-Poshpora village allegedly by the army troops during the intervening night of February 23 and 24, 1991.
Festival organisers said the activists of saffron brigade gate crashed into the festival campus and tried to stall the screening of 'Ocean of Tears' which was "courageously" foiled by the activists of VIBGYOR.
"The film was later screened with the support of audience. However, the festival office was destroyed by the communal forces. Some activists of VIBGYOR were attacked in the presence of police," said a spokesman of the organisers.
The incident occurred at Friday evening when activists of saffron brigade assembled outside the venue and started shouting slogans. Within minutes they entered into the venue and tried to stall the film screening. However, the activists stood their ground and countered their protests amid heavy police presence.
Saffron groups' attempt to stall the screening came despite the fact that the Central Board of Film Certification has given clearance for "unrestricted public exhibition" of the documentary.
Bilal Ahmad Jan, the director of Ocean of Tears said that is unfortunate that this thing happens in country like India where there is freedom of expression "Despite initial disruptions the film screening went ahead and peopleappreciated the work. I am thankful to the people of Kerala for their support," he said.
The 27 minute documentary reveals victims' experiences in the struggle against all forms of violence inflicted on them. It depicts how they learn to deal with their past and the coming year of further battle against the power structures.
The film also highlights the plight of families of the disappeared people particularly the women folk who had to face the brunt in the valley during the last 22 years of turmoil.
The film has been screened at numerous international film festivals including prestigious Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (NHRIFF) et al.
Meanwhile, a petition signed by eminent filmmakers, camera persons, editors, sound recordists, poets, writers, theater personalities and film lovers have issued a public appeal to all secular and democratic citizens in the country to condemn the attempts of the "fascist forces to block communication through films, theater, poetry, painting, music, literature etc".