A film festival to highlight violence against women is on the anvil

Against the backdrop of the startling pace of growth of violence against women, especially cases of sexual assault, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign — also known as Jagori-Sangat South Asia — is organising a film festival ‘Our Lives…To Live’ to highlight issues of courage, protest and hope.

Organised by the Delhi chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) in collaboration with cultural and educational institutions and NGOs across the country, the festival will screen films from all over the world, including India. The films will be screened at several venues in Delhi, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and Kolkata. There will be fiction and features as well as all kinds of documentary and non-fiction, experimental films, animation, student films, and community videos.

The films will draw us into the lives of women from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries. “It is a message to people to be part of that process of rising up against economic oppressions and social injustice, and the violence of forced marriages, and sexual assault and moral policing, and discrimination on the grounds of ability or age or sexuality or caste or gender, and sheer everyday marital family and natal family and state-sanctioned violence. For all of us (not only women) to move from non-awareness of issues to awareness and active engagement,” said Smriti Nevatia, curator of the festival in India.

Some of the award-winning films that will be screened are Saving Face — a documentary on survivors of acid attacks, Fighting the Silence: Sexual violence against Women in the Congo that takes us into the hearts and minds of rape survivors and their families as they come together to demand justice, Orchid: My Intersex Adventure that traces Australian filmmaker Phoebe Hart’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, Something Like a War which is a historical overview of India’s coercive family planning programme and its impact on women, When Women Unite based on a movement against arrack shops that began in villages and spread across Andhra Pradesh and Bhumika starring Smita Patil in one of her most unforgettable roles.

In Delhi the movies will be screened at Max Mueller Bhawan from November 23 to 25 with simultaneous (as well as staggered) screenings and themed discussions at main venues in multiple cities and on college campuses. These will continue till 2013.