Cinema stops Indian film after staff are harrassed

Pic credit: Studio040

Eindhoven cinema LAB-1 has stopped ticket sales for the Indian film The Kerala Story. This happened after employees of the cinema were harassed, including on social media, email and by phone, by unknown people.

According to a spokesperson for the cinema, the messages took on an “intimidating and threatening” character, writes Omroep Brabant. It was then decided to stop ticket sales for the film. The film had been running in cinemas for a fortnight and was to be shown for the last time on Sunday.

The Indian film The Kerala Story is about a group of Muslim women from the Indian state of Kerala who convert to Islam and then join terror group Islamic State.

‘On the edge’

According to the cinema spokesperson, the film has been running for several weeks without any problems. “Since the beginning of this week, we have been increasingly approached and harassed from the Muslim world who are apparently opposed to this film. The tone of the messages changed and when staff members were also approached personally, a limit was reached for us. Since we value the safety of our staff and visitors, we have withdrawn the film from programming.”

The tone of the messages in the apps, emails and on social media was “on the edge”, according to the spokesperson, also the messages in question became more frequent and intense. “They knew how far they could go,” said the cinema spokesperson. These included messages saying, “We wouldn’t want there to be any hassle or violence at your doorstep, would we?”

The cinema removed all information about the film from its website and reported it to the police. “There have also been consultations about the film and the threats with police and public administration, among others,” he said.

Not out of touch

Opponents say the film oversimplifies and exaggerates how women in Kerala eventually joined IS. It is also said that the film tries to pit Hindus and the Muslims in India against each other. Despite this, the film is a big hit in India and raised nearly 58 million so far.

LAB-1 screens Indian films almost weekly and was willing to show the film as usual despite all the fuss. “We do that because of the international nature of our audience. We stand for cultural diversity where we are guided by artistic and creative expression,” the cinema said in a statement. “Art and culture sometimes produce controversial dilemmas and discussions. That is also part of culture and should be reason for dialogue and discussion. Not to threats and intimidation. We will carry on and not let ourselves be put out of action.”


Translated by: Anitha Sevugan

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