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Cinema with soul


`Made by Women' showcased 13 films from 10 countries including animations and documentaries.

SENSITIVE TAKE The films shattered myths and were diverse in theme, genre and medium.

The language of good cinema is universal. Made by women, the International Women's Film Festival (IWFF), which showed 13 award-winning films from 10 countries, precisely conveyed this. Organised by the Hyderabad Film Club and Point of View, a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation, the festival was a tribute to cinema with soul.

The festival shattered myths that women make films only about women. Or that women make only issue-based films. Says Anuja of Point of View, "This is the second year of the festival and we've travelled with it to seven cities. Last year, we showed only feature films made by women but this year we included animation, documentaries and many other genres."

Why women?

Why films made only by women? "Because our organisation, works to showcase the viewpoints of women through media, art and culture. Whether consciously or unconsciously, whatever the topic, women make a deep social, political or feminist comment," says Anuja.

There were abstract films, video-diaries, documentary films and feature films. There were films with stories of struggle and triumphs set-off against films with little story element, but strong statements.

The festival began with a quaint animation film made by the world's first animation feature filmmaker - Lotte Reiniger, who made the film 12 years before Walt Disney, a fact cloaked in the mists of time. . The film's unique silhouette animation details everything from the plot to the curls on a judge's wig. The other animation films were amalgamations of clay art and film, both by Joan Gratz. An innovator, Gratz took clay-art to animation films and created her own set of `clay-mation' films. Colours whirl, twirl and coalesce to form new shapes, objects and thoughts.

The three feature films from Iran, India and France, were evocative and beautifully crafted. The seamless rapport the films establish with the viewer belie the cultural distances that exist on the surface. Isa, from How I Killed my Father (by Anne Fontaine) is about a childless woman who drugs herself every night. She smiles, arranges flowers, opens doors and always plays the gorgeous wife of a highly successful doctor. In Sancharram, by Ligy Pullapally (a Chicago- based Malayalee filmmaker), the birth and growth of a lesbian relationship is depicted . The characters Delilah and Kiran are girls you could have been with in school or stood next to in the bus. While you may not fully relate to their sexual preferences, you will still feel their girlish fears and pain.

From Iran

Iranian filmmaker Marziyeh Meshkini's film The Day I became a Woman shows three episodes in an Iranian woman's life. The end of a little girl's childhood is shown in the first episode.

Her final hour of freedom is measured by the shadow cast by a stick given by her grandmother before she is allowed to go out to play `one last time'. The second episode is brilliantly shot and makes the viewer feel the cool seaside breeze . A married woman participating in a cycling race, is hounded out by her husband, who comes riding on a horse. She is divorced, bullied and thrown out of her family and tribe

The third episode shows a very old woman shopping for her life's desires with the money she suddenly got from an inheritance.

Under the documentary section, the Norwegian film My Body, by Margreth Olin and Purity, by Anat Zuria, clearly stole the show. The film documents a woman's deeply personal journey in which she not only comes to terms with her imperfect body but also falls in love with it. Not until the woman has a daughter does she understand what her body could do for her, says the filmmaker, who had been ridiculed through her life for the shape of her feet, jutting teeth and stomach.

Purity from Israel, takes a close look at a Jewish custom called miqveh. It lays down that a woman shall be "an untouchable, until she has immersed herself in a specially designed bath tub after seven clean days from the end of her periods." That there are ritual purity advisors whom Jewish women can consult, that a whole system of religious laws strictly governs the sex life of Jewish couples and other facts emerge as the film unfolds. The strong similarities in the Indian context come to mind.

`Made by women' ran a gamut of faces and colours, but the images lingered and the tones overlapped.

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