National film awards: Filmmaker cries foul

The director and co-producer of film Tshorwa – The Inner Call has made several allegations against the National Film Association board of directors regarding the awards.

The debutant director alleged that the board had secretly changed the criteria of the film awards to suit the new Prime Minister’s Awards that were given to the three best films that booked Nu 1 million each in prizes.

The association issued a guideline a month before the award ceremony which spells out that the film that bags most of the major awards would automatically qualify as the best film.

Out of 31 award categories, debutant director Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche’s film won in six. It won three of the seven major awards: the best visual editor, cinematography, and background score, and another three minor awards which should have put it through as one of the best films.

“The film was not even nominated for the best director award,” the director said.

That was because the board in a meeting adopted another set of criteria for the best film awards, he said. “We never knew.”

The best film was judged on eight categories: best director which was worth 30 percent of the total score, screenplay (20 percent), culture and Dzongkha (25 percent), and five percent each for actors’ performance, cinematography, editor, sound designer, and background score.

The weightage on the various categories were different from the guidelines that the 20 film producers entering the awards competition had signed.

The director said that the weightage should have been the same for all categories in the new criteria, which should not have happened in the first place.

Moreover, two of the board members were involved in two films that won the best film awards and also received their share of the prize money. “That I think is conflict of interest,” the director said.

The vice president of the board was the director and script writer of the film Serga Mathang that won the best film award and took the Prime Minister’s Award.

“Going by the declaration we signed with legal stamps, Serga Mathang should have been disqualified because the film made a false nomination in the new comer female category. Their nominee had already acted in a few films before,” the director said.

While the film Thrung Thrung Karmo could not win any awards, it was declared the second runners up of the Prime Minister’s Award and grabbed Nu 1 million.

“Personally I have nothing against the board members. The issue is Tshorwa film against the authority on these issues,” the director said.

National Film Association president Mila Tobgay said that there is no corruption involved.

He said that the government had agreed to sponsor the prize money for the three best films to promote the industry. The association had submitted the criteria to the government on how it would be disbursed should it release the money. However, the funding was not released at the time the films were registered for the awards.

“So we went ahead with the usual guidelines for the nominations. Later when the prize money was confirmed we had to switch to the criteria that we’d submitted to the government and the change was accepted by the producers entering the competition in a meeting,” he said.

He said if the producers had concerns of conflict of interest on board members being part of films being nominated for awards, they should have raised it in the numerous meetings the executives had with them.

“We’ve been transparent and we’re ready to clarify on any of the issues,” Mila Tobgay said.

Tshering Palden

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