Film workers across the country have viewed the ministry’s move with misgivings on the grounds that the closure of the four Film Media Units is bound to hurt the sentiments of those who long have been associated with these Film Media Units.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, has finally initiated the anticipated move to abolish four Film Media Units and to merge these with the National Films Development Corporation (NFDC) in a bid to streamline all activities related to film production, screenings, and holding of festivals and competitions.
As per an office memorandum of the ministry issued on 23 February (2022), the process of merger of the four Film Media Units, namely, Films Division, Directorate of Films Festival (DFF), National Films Archives of India (NFAI), and the Children Films Society of India (CFSI), with NFDC have been set in motion.
An implementation committee headed by the Additional Secretary, MoI&B, Neerja Sekhar had in a meeting held on 8th February earlier this month decided to proceed with the merger. Staffs employed with the erstwhile four Film Media Units are to be re-deployed to other related offices including the various Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMCs) located at Delhi, and Kottayam, with some to be absorbed within NFDC.
The regional branch offices of the Films Division located at Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayawada, Hyderabad and Chennai are to be closed within two months. All production related works of the Films Division will now be handed over to NFDC. The meeting deliberated that the mandate of Production Activities of Films Division shall be taken over by NFDC from 1st April later this year. However, the activities of production of Documentary Films will be fully performed by NFDC from July-August, 2022.
Meantime, the branch offices of the National Films Archives of India located at Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru and Kolkata have been closed and all the manpower is to be transferred to NFAI head office at Pune temporary until the final merger of NFAI with NFDC.
The International Films Festival of India (IFFI) which earlier was hosted by the DFF will now be organized by NFDC, beginning with the 53rd edition of IFFI. The implementation committee meeting also discussed the organization of the National Children’s Film Festival and the Chief Executive Officer, CFSI informed that NFDC is preparing to organize the festival by the end of June, 2022 either at Chennai or at Guwahati.
Additional Secretary Neerja Sekhar raised the issue of organizing Film Festivals in the North East Region in the context of future activities, whereupon, the members opined that it was a good suggestion to improve the activities in the NER. The Managing Director, NFDC, Ravinder Bhakar reportedly stated that NFDC will plan the proposed NER Film Festivals under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Ravinder Bhakar who also held the additional post of Director General of Films Division raised the matter of issuance of No Objection Certificates/licences to the exhibitors after closure of Films Division, whereupon the Additional Secretary Neerja Sekhar stated that for grant of NOC/licence, the matter could be included in the Broadcast Seva Portal, which is to be launched by the Ministry soon. Films Division, meantime, will continue to perform the activity till it exists.
Meanwhile, film workers across the country have viewed the ministry’s move with misgivings on the grounds that the closure of the four Film Media Units is bound to hurt the sentiments of those who long have been associated with these Film Media Units. The move also will lead to the loss of film heritage associated with these film media units since decades.