The Kerala film fraternity hailed the state High Court's verdict, permitting the screening of Malayalam film "S Durga" at the ongoing IFFI in Goa, saying that artistic freedom should be protected in the country.

They feel the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's s decision to exclude the movie, directed by award winning filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, from the Indian Panorama section of International Film Festival of India was "unconstitutional".

State-award winning director Vidhu Vincent said the verdict is a "hope giving" development for filmmakers and artists in the country. She said that besides the court, people and movie buffs should also react to such interventions of the government in the artistic freedom.

However, the "Manhole" director said she was not sure the movie could be exhibited in the IFFI as the festival had already begun. "Freedom of artists and filmmakers should be protected in a country like India, which is known for its democratic values. S Durga's case is the latest example of the intervention of government machinery in the artistic freedom," Vidhu told PTI.

Lashing out at BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, she said that besides "S Durga" and Sanjay Leela Bansali-directed "Padmavati", a number of movies and documentaries had to face trouble.

"The government's approach to such films is unconstitutional and cultural fascism," she said. 

Echoing similar sentiments, award-winning filmmaker V K Prakash said the High Court verdict is a solace to independent filmmakers like Sanal. "The IB Ministry's decision to drop S Durga from IFFI is nothing but the intervention of the government machinery in artistic freedom. It should not have happened. Especially as the movie was selected by an expert panel," he told PTI. 

On the ongoing controversy on "Padmavati", Prakash said such movies have wider scope, but independent cinemas like "S Durga" may get only limited  platforms like IFFI.

Eminent filmmaker and Kerala Film Academy chairman, Kamal told a local channel that it seems that the judiciary is the only institution in which people,  especially artistes, can rely on these days.

Allowing a petition by the film's director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Justice B Vinod Chandran of the Kerala High Court directed the IB ministry to screen 'S Durga' at the 48th edition of International Film Festival of India at Goa. The film's certified copy can be exhibited in the festival, which commenced on Monday, the court said.

The film, a road movie that follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men in the dead of the night, won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.