Thiruvananthapuram, December 2, 2023 – Former Kerala Education Minister M.A. Baby lauded Kerala’s cultural landscape for its embracement of dissent, asserting that the state’s democratic and cultural approach is superior in its acceptance of diverse political views and disagreements. Baby made these remarks during the inauguration of the media cell of the 28th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram.
In his address, Baby addressed the recent controversy surrounding the selection of Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi for the Lifetime Achievement Award at IFFK. Despite ideological differences with left-wing views, Baby emphasized Zanussi’s standing as a renowned film teacher in world cinema. He urged the audience to be open to differing opinions and welcomed the opportunity to listen to Zanussi’s views, emphasizing the importance of accepting constructive criticism.
“Zanussi will have his opinions. We must listen to the views that we agree as well as disagree. We should keep our ears open to what Zanussi had to say. Good aspects of his criticism should be accepted,” stated M.A. Baby. He recalled how Marxist thinker P. Govinda Pillai had responded to Zanussi’s comments on communism as early as 1998, underlining the continuity of intellectual exchange over the years.
Highlighting the significance of film festivals, Baby asserted that they serve as platforms for encouraging creative discussions and celebrating diversity in perspectives. Shaji N Karun, Chairman of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) and acclaimed filmmaker, echoed these sentiments, stating that cinema exemplifies the convergence of science and art. He noted the stark contrast between IFFK’s budget and that of many other film festivals around the world, emphasizing the festival’s commitment to its roots and cultural ethos.
The inauguration event was presided over by R.S. Babu, the Chairman of Kerala Media Academy. Notable personalities present at the event included Premkumar, Vice Chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy; C. Ajoy, Secretary of the Chalachitra Academy; Ravi Menon, General Council Member; Rakesh, Secretary of Kerala Film Producers Association; Anupama G Nair, KUWJ District Secretary; and H. Shaji, Deputy Director of IFFK. The gathering collectively celebrated the spirit of open dialogue, diversity, and the rich cultural tapestry that defines Kerala’s intellectual landscape.