IFFM can be made more inclusive: Cr Oscar Lobo


Film festival debate heats up. Cr Oscar Lobo intervenes, says no proper processes followed in organising IIFM

The Indian Film Festivalof Melbourne, which opened in May, was both a hit and a miss. While on the one hand, the festival hit the bull’s eye with its celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema, on the other, a section of viewers and community leaders felt the choice of movies – predominantly Bollywood – was a miss.

Numerous complaints were received from members of the Indian community, who were upsetwith what they called a “recycled” reel of films.

The debate heated up with Jude Pereraraising the issue in the Victorian Parliament and Cr Gupta criticising Minister Asher on the matter.

Shveata Chandel Singh spoke to Oscar Lobo, the first Indian Councillor and a Deputy Mayor, on the issue.

“In 2010, Ted Baillieuoffered $450K to promote an Indian film festival. I heard this announcement in Sand Downs Racecourse where Baillieudelivered his speech, which received a round of applause from those gathered there. But I believe there was no proper business plan or cost-benefit analysis to the whole announcement. It was just some kind of publicity stunt to gain the support of the Indian community in Victoria as the elections were due soon after. All in all, I don’t believe it was a prudent way to throw away nearly half a million dollars of tax payers’ money,”says Mr Lobo.

Mr Lobo believes that as the project was not well-thought out, people with connections to Mr Baillieu,following his election as the Premier of Victoria, grabbed the offer “to obtain the so-called tender to conduct the event”.

“Clearly, knowing the right peopleis the name of the game. There are various denominations in Indian community in Victoria — Tamil, Konkani, Punjabi, Gujarati etc – and there was little or no representation of those communities in the festival. It would be interesting to know the main language of the people who were given this tender with lack of transparency, which Australia is known for,” he adds.

Mr Lobo does not believe proper processes were followed, which is the reason that IIFM is an issue now. “Let’s say an error of judgement was made for two years. Does that mean another one is justified? Should the tender go to those who are known to the government? Recently, I was requested by a group of Indian councillors to make an appointment with the office of the Minister of Tourism. When I approached the department officials, I was told the Minister was busy and it could take six months for an appointment. Six months from now we will be preparing ourselves to vote,” he says.

He says the festival can be made more inclusive by reaching out to Indian councillors.

“Participation by Indian leaders can help to a great extent. Democracy is a two-way process,” he says.

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