Burning Birds: why a festival film may be placed out of the competition programme?

Burning Birds is one of the films selected for Kazan Muslim Film Festival 2017 press screenings. The film by Sanjeewe Pushpakumara (Shri Lanka, France, the Netherlands and Qatar co-production) has not entered the competition programme of the festival and will participate in its Hindustan Across the Cultures parallel programme due to the violence scenes and sensitive content of the film. The press screening of the film has finished with the discussions of principles and concept of selection of films for the main competition programme of the Kazan Muslim Film Festival.

The Kazan Muslim Film Festival director of programming, Albina Nafigova, highlights that the violence scenes and the sensitive content were the main reasons why the film was not included to the competition programme of the festival even the film produced in 2016 has already participated in Busan IFF, Tokyo Filmex and Rotterdam festivals.

“Every year we are constantly asked why our Kazan Muslim Film Festivals is different from others. In this context, I would say that it is possible to scream about a war, at the same time one can whisper. We are focusing on films that use strong and, at the same time, delicate tools to present sensitive issues. In some cases, we negotiate with film directors about special versions of a film for Muslim film festivals and sometimes they have such special versions. If not, unfortunately, we are not able to include a film to the main competition programme. The same story happened with the Burning Birds film presenting a difficult story of a women, who after the death of her husband, has to support her 8 children and mother-in-law working in a quarry, in a butchery and a brothel. Her children are starving, while she faces harassments and violence, disrespect and hatred”.

A member of the selection board of the festival, Adilya Khaybullina, adds that the film is not fitting into the concept of the festival, even it is an absolutely brilliant work. “The motto of the festival is ‘through dialogue of cultures to culture of dialogue’ expresses its main focus on humanitarian films. Burning Birds includes the scene of violence. Although, there might be some similar content in the competition programme films. However, those films are not focusing on the physiological details of violence. It means that if a film has a violent content, it does not omit a possibility for an inclusion to the main competition programme. Everything depends on the focus of a film director. As regards the Burning Birds and its participation in the parallel programme, it was impossible not to showcase the film during the festival, as the work is excellent and its content is quite remarkable”, comments Adilya Khaybullina.

Giving the insights to the work of the festival selection board, Albina Nafigova, mentions that the members of the board watch the films and provides their views separately from each other. In the case of controversial decisions, separate discussions are taking place. “We aim to show a broad panorama of the Muslim world”, says Albina Nafigova.

The press screenings of the 13th edition of Kazan Muslim Film Festival will finish on 29 August 2017 with a screening of an opening film of the festival, Our Preacher (Mawlana) by Magdy Ahmed Aly (Egypt).