Regional jury system for film awards

The expert committee chaired by noted filmmaker Shyam Bengal has recommended that there should be a two-tier viewing of films to facilitate the selection process for the National Film Awards. 

According to its suggestions, a central jury will choose films for various award categories from a short list chosen by five regional juries, which will look at films made in various languages in those regions. 

The committee has also outlined guidelines for the regional jury composition. Incidentally, almost a similar jury system was in vogue decades ago, which was scrapped apparently to overcome alleged intra-regional biases. The committee, formed at the behest of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni to make the National Film Awards more contemporary, has also suggested constitution of new awards in audiography, music, best screenplay and dialogue sections.

It has suggested that the award for the best art direction be called Best Production Design Award to reflect contemporary technology. Also, it has said the number of awards in the feature film category be raised from 31 to 34 and the cash prize for the special jury award in feature films be raised from Rs 1,25,000 to Rs 2 lakh.

For the non-feature film category too, the committee has made some key recommendations, including splitting of the award for the Best Film on Environment, Agriculture and Education into the Best Educational Film and Best Film on Environment awards.  It also said that the cash component of awards for the best non-feature film and best direction be enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.

The report of the panel, comprising Benegal, Sai Paranjpye, Ashok Vishwanathan, Rajiv Mehrotra, Sharmila Tagore, Vishal Bhardwaj, Nagesh Kukunoor, Mohan Agashe, Waheeda Rehman, Jahnu Barua and Shaji N Karun, was presented by Benegal a few days ago to Soni, who promised immediate processing.

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