Selection of the Indian Panorama for the International Film Festival of India is not always a happy ending. Most times the list is reviled and the jury pilloried. In quite a few cases, justifiably so. The reason for this widespread anger is the secrecy the whole process is shrouded in. Members are warned against revealing the deliberations, but invariably they are leaked, leading to litigation and heart-burn. May be the answer lies in making the whole process transparent.
Every Jury member should make a list of twenty movies, write a crisp review of every movie and then grade it on a rating of 1 to 10. The top twenty would be selected by simply totalling the points allotted to them by all the members. The remaining five films will be discussed by the jury members and voted upon. They will necessarily have to be from amongst the final lists given by the members. The four filtering panels too would follow this process of written rationale when recommending movies from their panel.
There will be no ground for accusations of foul play as each jury member has clearly written down his reasons for appreciating the movies selected. And the points he allotted to it. And of course, this will be in the public domain. The public has a right to know as it’s their money that is funding the exercise.
Trying to make the decisions look unanimous is a futile attempt at masking honest dissonance. No one can believe that 13 people have all agreed on 25 films. Even in a household there will be four different opinions about a film they watch together. Decisions of juries in matters of life and death too, as in the US, are not always unanimous. A majority view is accepted without any controversy.
Another advantage of writing down the pros and cons of a movie is that a member is forced to be objective in his or her assessment. It also clearly demonstrates the clarity and quality of the jury’s thinking. There’s little room for cloudy judgement based on whims or biases.
If showcasing India’s best films to the world is the unquestioned goal, then a transparent selection process is the unambiguous answer.