CINEMA A film festival for a better tomorrow, the freedom to love, and the courage to stand up for oneself and a whole community

Gender violence is violence against women, LGBT and the transgender community. Period. The International Association Of Women In Radio & Television along with the Max Mueller Bhavan hosted “Our Lives.. To Live. No! To Gender Violence” – where they screened over 30 films that opened minds and eyes to true stories. The films discussed, debated and disseminated the different avatars that harassment manifests in, and they drove home the message of courage, protest and hope.

Independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, Nupur Basu says, “Time and again women have shown that despite all the adversity they face they are willing to keep hope alive and fight for their rights. I have seen women in rural areas who have not eaten for three days and do not have work, being courageous and hopeful even when we get frustrated with the system...they keep that hope alive as mothers to keep their children alive.”

In the films the themes rang clear; one found courage in Fighting The Silence , a film by Ilse van Velzen and Femke van Velzen, which documented the stories of rape survivors and their families who broke the silence. The film recaps the atrocities committed against women over the seven-year war that tore the Democratic Republic Of The Congo. The women blame themselves for having been in a situation that allowed them to be raped and the men don’t want their women after she has been ‘shared’ by another man.

And in the India Unheard film New Life For Disabled Transgender by Christy Raj, we see the physically handicapped tribal female-to-male transgender. He fell in love and married a girl and the couple had to escape with their lives and fight the odds for dignity and livelihood. It was a film of protest, of fighting for one’s right.

Change has to come from all ends, it has to be multi-pronged otherwise it happens in pockets and is ineffective, Nupur argues. And as far as the legalities and myopia are concerned, she says, “The legislations have been late in coming but they are beginning to take shape now – but even then it is lack of implementation that continues to frustrate. Even the Pre Natal Diagnostic Test Act continues to be violated till this day despite legislation since the mid-90s.”

But then we find hope in More Than A Friend , a docu-fiction by Debalina about a homosexual relationship between Rupsa and Ranja. The film documents reactions to the relationship from different quarters – the help, the neighbours, the moral police and Ranja’s mother. We follow the turbulent but warm love story, and the tribulations the two girls face only because they love differently. The film closes on a note of hope and happiness and the promise of a better tomorrow. The awareness has to begin at all ends, Nupur says, “Only then there can be a meeting point of a sane and acceptable civilised way to live that is devoid of violence due to patriarchy and power play.”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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