Framing women’s narratives

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Festival The ongoing Open Frame International Film Festival focuses on narratives of and by women. BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA

A still from
A still from "The World Before Her"

PSBT’s Open Frame International Film Festival is back in its 13th year with a selection of its own films as well as international films appreciated the world over. The film festival (September 11 – 21), being held at the India International Centre, this time focuses on narratives of and by women, foregrounding women’s experiences and inviting critical engagement.

“PSBT has a passion and commitment to nurturing a truly independent space in the electronic media. The Open Frame Film Festival draws upon its own films and a curated selection of some of the best international films that represent powerful narratives by women about their concerns. PSBT feels that this deserved special focus because of the renewed concerns over the predicaments of Indian women,” says Rajiv Mehrotra, managing trustee, PSBT.

The films being screened tackle multiple issues. While Nisha Pahuja’s “The World Before Her”, winner of Best Documentary Feature award at Tribeca Film Festival, looks at two camps — a month-long beauty boot camp with the contestants for the Miss India pageant and a camp for young girls run by Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad — to underscore the differing, conflicting ideas of femininity in the same country, Pramada Menon’s “And You Thought You Knew Me” introduces us to five women who identify themselves as lesbians, creating an intimate portrait of ‘the other’ . There are also films that problematise the issues of virginity, menstruation, abortion, surrogacy, disability, and stereotyping of women in the media.

The international selection includes, among others, “The Invisible War”, an investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military told through the testimonies of rape survivors, and the predominantly archival “No Job For A Woman: The Women Who Fought To Report WW II” which tells the story of three war correspondents who crossed gender borders to report the war that changed the map of the world.

In addition to the film screenings, the festival will host a number of workshops. These include a film appreciation workshop by Suresh Chabria, ‘Aesthetics for non-fiction filmmaking’ by Ajit Duara, ‘Essentials of documentary filmmaking’ by Rajiv Mehrotra and ‘Aspects of documentary facts and fictions’ by Sameera Jain among others.

Films to watch out for

“Fragments of a Past” (Saturday, 11.30 a.m.)

Directed by Uma Chakravarti, the film talks about the life and work of political activist Mythili Sivaraman. The film dwells on the inner lives of women, the fragility of their personal archives and the impossibility of retrieving these lives because of the way we have been taught history.

“Accsex” (Monday, 4.45 p.m.)

Directed by Shweta Ghosh, the film raises questions about beauty, 'ideal' bodies and sexuality through four women who happen to be disabled. The film traces their journeys as they reclaim agency and the right to sexual expression and happiness.

“Salma” (Monday, 6 p.m.)

Directed by Kim Longinitto, the film tells the story of Muslim Tamil poet Salma, who defied her family to become one of the most important female literary figures in South India today.



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