Documentaries and short films on the livelihood challenges of the rural and urban poor will be screened at the three-day “Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival", which started on Friday in the Capital. An initiative of Delhi-based think tank Centre for Civil Society (CCS), the film festival will be held at the Siri Fort Auditorium.

In its 12th edition, the festival will screen 25 films in 11 languages; 18 films in the competitive category have been selected by a jury of film-makers and journalists from a total of 115 entries from 13 countries. The 2014 film Caste On The Menu Card was also supposed to be screened, but it has not made it to the festival. The 21-minute documentary by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tiss) students looks at the concerns of social inclusion and livelihood that surround beef consumption, especially in college canteens and restaurants across Mumbai.

Festival director Manoj Mathew said the film had not got exemption from certification, which allows it to be screened in public.

According to a report in The Indian Express, “CCS said they were told that the film could not be exempted from the certification process—exemptions are a normal practice for such festivals—due to the ‘current political situation over the beef ban issue’. But an I&B (information and broadcasting) ministry official said exemption was denied to Caste On The Menu Card because the ministry was ‘not provided with adequate information about the film’."

This year, the festival features a special short film competition titled “EduDoc". These 5-minute shorts focus on stories of entrepreneurs creating newer avenues and opportunities for learning and education. “This is an experiment we have launched," says Mathew, adding that a total of 22 entries were received in this category. Five winning entries will be screened.

Mathew, who has been at the helm for eight years, says it is challenging to generate participation and interest in a film festival with such a specific focus area. “Student participation is far better than professional ones. They (the films) are visually more appealing, and are courageous also, taking up topics that are very current," he says, referring to Caste On The Menu Card.

Other films include Iranian director Ayat Najafi’s film No Land’s Song, which deals with the struggles of a music composer who attempts to organize a public performance by female singers—an activity that is banned in the country. When The Boat Comes In from Myanmar, by Yangon-based film-maker Khin Maung Kyaw, captures the plight of a Myanmarese fishing community when the fishing season is cut short by legislation. The festival received the maximum number of entries from Myanmar for the competitive category, says Avinash Chandra, editor of Azadi.me, the CCS’ Hindi Web portal. Of eight entries from that country, four are being screened at the festival.

Discussions with experts on laws and legislation that affect livelihood, as well as on the ease of doing business, will also be held over the three days.

12th Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival 2015 is on till 1 November, at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi. For details, visit www.jeevika.org/festival-2015/.

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