Who Debarred "you‟?
The Idea of “Unqualified” Public in International Film Festival of Kerala
The paper examines the idea of „unqualified public‟ in International Film Festival of Kerala, IFFK. The general notions about the public in IFFK will be described by narrating incidents and tales of hindrances people faced while entering into the above-mentioned space. The criticisms leveled against cinema in the discussions, outside the space, always contributed to number of censures of the Film Festival too, spurring debates centering around who should watch a movie or who should participate in IFFK. A paper that aims to understand the notion of public, in an international festival on films in Kerala, cannot possibly neglect the typical perspectives and publicnotions about movies, especially among a select group of people in Kerala. While unpacking the notions of who these public individuals are and what their opinions on films are, the paper will also raise questions such as: Do films really imagine a homogeneous public, an idea of public without differences? What is the film‟s conception of public sphere? Do films create a new kind of public sphere? Then, what about cinema kottakas and film festivals? The paper takes note of one of the burning controversies in 2014 in the history of IFFK, that each delegate should submit a note on his/her ideas about cinema. Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Malayalam film director had suggested that only those who know English can enjoy all the movies as the Festival includes movies in other languages with subtitles (Ramnath 2014). So I here look at how specifically, language becomes a key factor to determine a „qualified public‟ in IFFK, among other factors that aid in the manufacturing of the „qualified public‟. For this study on IFFK the aim would be to focus on the description and analysis of (unqualified) public in IFFK in relation to the recent controversies, to reveal the multi-layered construction of the „qualified public‟.