Catch a Feminist Film Festival this Independence Weekend

A primer on the ‘The Feminist Docu Film Festival’ that’s playing at the Godrej Culture Labs this weekend in Mumbai

3 min read
Catch a Feminist Film Festival this Independence Weekend

Did feminism in India start in December 2012 in reaction to the Delhi gang-rape? Though sometimes it feels so, we know it isn’t true. Does feminism begin and end with responses to sexual violence? That’s another thing we know isn’t true.

Reads the invite to the ‘Wandering Women: The Feminist Docu Film Festival’ playing in Mumbai this weekend, on August 15 and 16 at the Godrej Culture Labs in Vikhroli. For anyone interested in gender, filmmaking, and India at large, the festival promises to be an insightful peep into what it means to be a woman in India.

The two day film festival has been organised by the feminist online magazine Ladies Finger along with Godrej Culture Labs. The festival will feature ten films by women filmmakers on Indian women and aspects of their lives - curated to have both rural and urban stories.

A still from Saba Dewan’s <i>Naach</i>
A still from Saba Dewan’s Naach

The festival will open with a ‘YouTube Party’ - “a slew of videos made by very young filmmakers who were born with a splash into a feminism-loving Internet.”

The first film being screened is Nishtha Jain’s award winning Gulabi Gang (released in theatres in 2014) on a women’s group fighting injustice in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district, amongst the poorest districts in the country, rife with upper caste patriarchal practices.

Paromita Vohra’s film Girls Unlimited, made in 2002, on a then nascent online culture is topical now as online has become the new mode of existence for many. Its subject matter is also relevant to today as definitions of what makes a feminist are increasingly traded and debated.

Pushpa Rawat and Anupama Srinivasan’s film Nirnay playing on the second day is an inspired telling of Rawat’s own life and that of her friends. If you thought Tanu Weds Manu was portraying small town girls in big cities then this will be a revelation to you.

No intimate space is left sacred and untouched by the film – we see them all – boyfriends, husbands and fathers. The film is dedicated to Rawat’s friends, and we see the utterly moving friendship of these young women with each other. Nirnay will remind you that sometimes unvarnished biography makes for the most powerful political art.
Ladies Finger

Kamlabai (1992), a documentary on one of the first Marathi stage actresses, made by Reena Mohan will play on August 15. Despite Kamlabai’s age at the time of filming (she was 92), the film is a delightful telling of her life and through it traces also the history of Indian cinema and theatre. The Ladies Finger quotes filmmaker Mohan as saying, “The film wasn’t meant to be documentation or a film that had to inform in a stodgy way. The film was her, she was the film.”

(Photo: Twitter/<a href="">The Ladies Finger</a>)
(Photo: Twitter/The Ladies Finger)

The rest of the selection is really good too – Saba Dewan’s Naach on the lives of young women performing at fairs in small towns, Manjuben Truckdriver is about a butch truck driver in Gujarat, made by Sherna Dastur, Taza Khabar by Bishakha Datta is on the women who run Khabar Laheriya, a local weekly newspaper produced in Bundelkhand, UP. There is Dream Girls by Deepika Sharma and Afra Shafiq on the lives of young women in cities made in response to the December 2012 Delhi rape case, Scribbles on Akka by Madhusree Dutta, about a 12th century poet Akka Mahadevi,  described as “celebration of rebellion”, and Ladies Special by Nidhi Tuli, which takes us to the ladies compartment of Mumbai’s local trains.

The film festival has all the feminist filmmaker I have looked up to. It’s truly humbling experience to have Dream Girls there.
– Deepika Sharma, Filmmaker, Dream Girls

There will also be panel discussions on ‘How Feminism Changed Indian Documentaries’ on August 15 and ‘Are Viral Videos Juicing up Feminism or Diluting it?’ on August 16.

The event is free and open for all. You can get more details here.

(Photo: Facebook)
(Photo: Facebook)

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