I have heard about film festivals like BQFF, etc. where they show films which have even failed to clear CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification)'s certification or few might not even applied for it.

How can a film festival be able to bypass CBFC certification? Do film festivals have a different rule in India for clearance than released films?

  • I guess it comes down to the definition of "public exhibition". Films (generally) only require a certificate if they are to be distributed to the general public. If it's a "private event", then no such certification is required. AFAIK.
    – Paulie_D
    Feb 26, 2017 at 17:57
  • @Paulie_D Maybe you can elaborate it into an answer.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Mar 15, 2017 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


The process is described in detail here. In short, films that are intended for festival release can bypass the normal censor process by applying for an exemption.

As per the policy for Certification of Films for Film Festivals, a copy of which is available with The Hindu , the process of clearing a film does not mandate that the film be watched before a decision is made.

Since 2016, uncensored films can be screened at the festival, on the condition that they receive an exemption certificate from the Ministry.

The applications for exemption certificates are processed by the Joint Secretary of the Ministry.

IFFI row: Certificate policy of I&B ministry raises questions

Note that this isn't a blanket exemption. Rules still apply regarding moral decency. Having the name of a goddess referred to as "sexy" was sufficient to get one film barred in 2017.

The policy states that the director of the festival has to send in six documents: a list of films to be screened, synopsis of each of the films, composition of the preview committee, report of the preview committee certifying that the films have been recommended for exhibition at the festival, a certificate from the director of the festival to the effect that the screening of such films would be limited to delegates and a certificate from the director of festival to the effect that the festival is non-commercial in nature.

The same process was followed in the present case. The application for exemption certificate for Sexy Durga was rejected on 19th September by the Ministry when the film was shortlisted among 168 films to be screened at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star 2017.

Showing a film that has been barred (or not sought exemption) would still be illegal.

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