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Ere Gowda's Balekempa dropped from Dharamshala film festival over sexual harassment accusation


Gowda's Balekempa is set to be screened at the 20th Jio MAMI film festival this week.

Shriram Iyengar

Amid sexual harassment allegations, the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) has dropped Ere Gowda's Balekempa from their festival lineup. The film had been announced as the festival's closing film. 

In their anouncement, the festival stated: "Following the allegation of sexual harassment against Ere Gowda, DIFF will not screen Balekempa and Ere Gowda will not be participating in the festival in any way."

The decision was spurred by the sexual harassment allegation levelled against Gowda by a woman on her friend's Facebook account on Tuesday. In her account, she accused the Thithi (2016) director of sexual assault and misconduct.

Explaining her decision to write about the event, she said, "The Harvey Weinstein incident came to light about a week after this. There was a wave of the MeToo movement in which people were coming out with accounts of sexual harassment. The group of people I was working with, in Bangalore, organized a meeting in light of this. I was sitting in this circle. People were sharing. I was nervous. When my turn came, I shared parts of my account. I did not take his name. At the end I changed my mind and put his name out there. My chest filled up with fear. My friends asked me to write about this. I wasn’t sure of reacting then. I was insecure. I did not want to be known for this. I wanted to be known first for my work. It took me a few months to process my feelings." 

In the post, the victim also accused Gowda of masturbating on her and forcing her. "Ere is a screenwriter. He is smart enough to get into somebody else’s shoes and speak from their mouths. So he knew what I was going through when he pushed me down to masturbate on me. He made a choice. At that moment he knew he was the one in power and he chose to abuse that power. I have a feeling that when his film gets selected for gender equality awards, he just sits back and gloats. I am not sure of how many more accolades we need to shower on this." 

Gowda is the writer of Thithi (2016), which won the National Award for Best Film in Kannada in 2016, as well as the Golden Leopard for director Raam Reddy at the Locarno International Film Festival. The film premiered at the MAMI film festival in 2015 where it was awarded the Grand Jury prize for Best Film. 

Balekempa won the Fipresci International Critics' Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival in February this year. The film has also been nominated to the India Gold Section of the 20th Jio MAMI film festival, as well as earning a nomination for the Oxfam award for the Best film on Gender Equality. 

Related topics

MAMI Sexual harassment