A three-day film festival was organised as an ode to female filmmakers.
Patriarchy has plagued society for centuries. A cliché that has been recited almost decade after decade. But amidst all the injustice, women found a way to shine and proper.
A study at San Diego State University said that women made up just 8 per cent of directors on the top 250 films at the domestic box office in Hollywood last year, down from 11 per cent the year before. But in context of the Indian cinema, according to a report published by the Geena Davis Institute the representation ratio is 6.2 males to every female adding that only one-in-ten directors is a woman.
But, cometh the hour, cometh the festival. With an aim to represent a woman's take on films, a three-day film festival, IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and Television) Asian Women's Film Festival was held at the India International Centre (IIC) in the capital on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The film festival, which was in its 15th year, showcased 50 films from 20 countries that were directed by women filmmakers of Asian origin.
The festival highlight included a special country focus on Georgia and an art installation embodying the female storyteller, the Bioscopewali. The film selections include curated segments on Female Gaze, Childhood, Seven Sisters (films from North East of India) by IAWRT's filmmakers - Bina Paul, Samina Mishra, Iffat Fatima, Jerro Mulla, Anandana Kapur, Supriya Suri. One of the festival highlights is a special country focus on Georgia curated by Smriti Nevatia and Soundphile by Shikha Jhingan.
“The 15th edition of the IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival is being held at a time when women in cinema are central to world discourse in many ways. Discussions about women’s participation in cinema and the #MeToo Campaigns in the film industry from Hollywood to the 900-film-a year Indian film industry - has put women in cinema at the heart of several critical discussions. It is not surprising therefore that Female Gaze organically became the theme of our festival's 15th edition,” observes Nupur Basu, Managing Trustee, IAWRT.
Gauri Chakraborty, curator of the film and also a filmmaker previously was a visitor of this festival for over five years and this was the first time she was curating a festival. “I have never imagined at that point that I'll get the chance to curate the festival,” she says. When asked about what advice she would give to women who face discrimination, she says, “You can’t give any advice because each person’s situation is different.” She then adds, “My only suggestion will be that it is important to sensitise the men in filmmaking, media, entertainment sector.”
“Whenever we talk of women centric films, are we talking of that from a sell ability point of view or are we talking about the core women issues?” she questions and adds that films like Padman and Lipstick Under my Burkha are commercial films that are being produced by a system and that system has started to acknowledge the fact that women are a demographic that the filmmakers want to address and attract. She offered an insight, “It is because these commercial films are so peer popular culture, there is this conversation now which is in the open. But if you look at independent filmmaking, this conversation has been happening for years.”
Roopa Burna, filmmaker, Daughters of the Polo God feels that women are just coming into the mix when it comes to filmmaking, women are still coming into their being and it would take time for perceptions to change. “I have worked with a lot of male actors and I don’t see any difference. They want to see how you and what you do and when they know you are doing a good job, they’re usually good with it”, she says in response to if male actors perceived her differently.
She goes on to say, “There is not prejudice and bias but they try to push your limits, they try to see how much you can handle not so much actors, maybe the producers, maybe the technicians, they try to see if they can get away.” She explains her reason to do a film on the women of Manipur playing polo saying, “It was such an interesting story because Manipur has had polo for a thousand years.”
She concludes the conversation by offering a word of advice for future women female filmmakers saying, “You have to be careful. You have to know what you are getting into and it takes a little practise to know what people are suggesting to you. You have to be very street smart and watch your step.”