October 1, 2008

‘Get Censor Nod Before Screening Films in Festivals’

By Himanshi Dhawan

NEW DELHI: With some film festival authorities screening movies without a censor certificate, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has issued a stern advisory asking state chief secretaries to ensure that stringent action is taken against such organisers.

In a letter, I&B secretary Sushma Singh has asked states to ensure that either film festival authorities produce a certificate from the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) or an exemption order from the ministry. The ministry has asked state governments to take strict action and withhold necessary permissions if required.

According to law, all films for public exhibition must be cleared by the censor board. But there have been reports of violations where unedited films were shown. In extreme cases, there have been instances where films that were considered unsuitable for public exhibition - that is those not rated adult - had also been screened.

While all films, even those screened on television, require a censor certificate, there are some categories of films that are exempted, including films shown on Doordarshan, recordings of sports broadcast, animation programmes, education programmes for up to class V not including sex education and song compilations from 'U' or universal category of films. However, there are theatres and cinema halls in every state that have been found to be violating the Cinematograph Act. But violators are rarely caught as enforcement of the law is with the state police.

Officials say that the law enforcement agency is under severe strain and is unable to match the resources or the manpower required for comprehensive raids and seizures against those movie halls showing pornographic or pirated films. The other challenge in controlling uncertified films is lack of technology.

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