‘I’m black and I’m a woman, so I’m doubly marginalised’

February 06, 2017 11:51 pm | Updated 11:51 pm IST - Bengaluru:

Film directors Kavita Lankesh and Priscilla Anany speaking at a panel discussion at the Bengaluru International Film Festival on Monday.

Film directors Kavita Lankesh and Priscilla Anany speaking at a panel discussion at the Bengaluru International Film Festival on Monday.

“One good film is enough for a white man to prove himself. But I’m a black woman and I need to prove myself again and again and again before investors believe in me and produce my films. Being black and a woman, I am doubly marginalised,” says Priscilla Anany, an American film-maker of Ghanian roots.

Her debut film Children of the Mountain was screened at the 2017 edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival (Biffes). Ms. Anany was speaking at a panel on ‘Women Power in Film World and Film Content’ on Monday.

Kannada film-maker Kavita Lankesh, a winner of multiple awards who was also on the panel, echoed similar sentiments and elucidated on the struggles of women film-makers, be it in Hollywood or in India. “I have done over 10 films and documentaries and have won multiple national awards. But I have been struggling to find a producer for my film for the past three years. I have four bound scripts ready, but to no avail. It’s doubly difficult for women film-makers. After over 10 films and decades in the industry too, I’m again expected to prove myself,” Ms. Lankesh said.

The scales are still titled but are slowly balancing. Of the over 100 films screened at Biffes this year, more than 35 films were made by women. “It was not deliberate. Women have rightfully earned their space,” said the festival’s art director N. Vidyashankar.

As the discussion veered towards how women film-makers determine the content of the films they make, Ms. Anany said that in Ghana, while men almost make a film a month direct to DVD with poor quality, it is the women who invest their time and passion and make films that are internationally recognised. Ms. Lankesh said films made by women at least ensure that they were not crass towards that gender.

So do women film-makers believe films are a contributing factor to the violence against women in society? There seemed to be a general consensus at the panel that films were a soft target and not responsible for the violence. “Except for the stalker syndrome, which I think when shown as being heroic has some effect on boys, blaming films is an easy way out. Instead of teaching the national anthem every day, we probably need to teach our boys [to] respect women,” Ms. Lankesh said.

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