Festival Movies

The only festival in India dedicated to showcasing films of Asian women

A still from Ask The Sexpert

A still from Ask The Sexpert  

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India’s Asian Women’s Film Festival that kicks off tomorrow at Delhi’s India International Centre

No two women could be as different as Elmas and Chehnaz in Clair Obscur. Elmas is an 18-year-old married to a much older man, suffocated physically and mentally in the conservative marriage. Chehnaz is as progressive and independent as any “Western” woman would be — sexually and intellectually. But nothing, perhaps, is what it seems.

By bringing together these parallel, seemingly opposed, traditional and liberal worlds, Turkish filmmaker Yeşim Ustaoğlu brutally reiterates a shared reality — however they be, wherever they may come from, women have to constantly battle patriarchy.

Yeşim’s powerful film opens the three-day IAWRT (The International Association of Women in Radio and Television), India’s Asian Women’s Film Festival that kicks off tomorrow at Delhi’s India International Centre.

The only one of its kind in India dedicated to showcasing the works of Asian women, whichever part of the world they may be living in, the festival is held every year around March 8 to mark International Women’s Day. This year, in its 14th edition, the festival features 73 films from 20 countries. “All the selected films cut across genres and have narratives that can reshape the way we imagine cinema, reflecting the many nuances of our lives and collective memories,” says Aradhana Kohli Kapur, festival director.

Overwhelming response

They received 219 films from 21 nations, some participating for the first time. “We were overwhelmed by the number of entries and their quality. It was a very hard task for us to limit ourselves to just three days of programming,” say Smriti Nevatia and Anjali Monteiro, curators (General Programming).

A specially curated package of animation films from South Korea and sections devoted to student films and experimental films will be the highlights.

“Some of the student film entries surprised us with their maturity and nuance. It was inspiring, as filmmakers ourselves, to see how students are pushing the envelope, not just in terms of aesthetics, but also the ways in which they tell their stories,” say Aparna Sanyal and Chandita Mukherjee, curators (Student Films Programming).

Immigration stories

The morning session of fiction, non-fiction and animation films, titled ‘Missing Persons Missing Homes’, features immigration stories of lost motherlands and adopted homes and the concomitant fluid personal identities, mostly from the perspective of the young.

Roj Means Sun is ashort filmabout Rojin, a Kurdish-Canadian girl, coping with her father’s death in the war, striking a bond with her mother, and trying to find her identity in a foreign country.

There is a plethora of other themes the films look at — from child labour and feudalism to the after-effects of war, urban loneliness and the inability to rent an apartment in a big city.

The Korean short film Searching for Mr. Yong is about a woman getting to know a certain stranger called Mr. Yong through mistaken messages and calls, while searching for her cat also called Yong. The Israeli film, Big Sister, is about the dilemmas a woman faces when her younger brother gets suspended for sexual offences.

There is Vaishali Sinha’s much-loved documentary Ask The Sexpert, on Mumbai Mirror’s agony uncle, Mahinder Watsa, who gives no-nonsense advice on sex day after day.

Ektara Collective’s Turup shows that making a film is possible without having been trained in the medium; that it may not just be an individual’s passion but a community’s dream and self-expression as well.

“Our endeavour has been to honour and showcase the work of women filmmakers of Asian origin, and also to provide a platform for stimulating, enriching and thought-provoking discussions and interactions with young and old filmmakers from India and abroad,” says Aradhana. Apart from the screenings there will be interactive sessions and discussions with the filmmakers. There will be seminars and workshops as well.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:16:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-only-festival-in-india-dedicated-to-showcasing-works-of-asian-women/article22918224.ece

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