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Political appointment to Nepalese film board raises concern

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - 28 January 2013 - For about a month, Nepalese film producers and filmmakers have been staging a peaceful struggle at the premises of the Film Development Board, a state agency that oversees the film industry. The cinematic community was further angered and concerned by the government's decision to appoint Dharmendra Kumar Marbaita, popularly known as Pappu, as Chairman of the Board.

Pappu is a cadre of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Republic) headed by the Minister for Information and Communication.

Film artists called for a reversal of the decision and the appointment of someone who is familiar with the problems of Nepal's film industry and takes initiative to address these issues.

Freedom Forum condemns Pappu's appointment as a highhanded decision by the government aimed at controlling the Board which should be autonomous. The appointment of a political cadre reflects the politicization of the state agency. Moreover, Pappu does not have any experience in the film sector.

Freedom Forum expresses its support for the views and protests of the film producers and film artists and urges the government to address their genuine demands for the independence of the Board.

The film community has been calling for, among other things, an autonomous Film Development Board, the appointment of film experts on the Board, the termination of film censorship or the establishment of a code for this practice, the development of the working film artists' act, the establishment of a box office framework and the classification of film halls.

BACKGROUND:
Film is a vibrant medium for free expression, and the struggle launched by the artists for the autonomy of the Board is a very pressing issue that the government needs to address, said Freedom Forum on 24 January.

As long as the Board is controlled, this will not enable an environment conducive to freedom of expression. The autonomy of the Board and the establishment of the box office and the classification of film and film halls are essential not only for transparency but also for the free and fair production and evaluation of films and film artists' rights must be respected.

According to the General Secretary of the Nepal Film Producers' Association, Suresh Darpan Pokhrel, "police took control of the artists and film producers while they were staging a relay hunger strike on 22 January." Freedom Forum condemned the police's intervention.

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