festival by Asian women
01 March 2005
International Women's Day, Delhi will witness a unique celebration of
women & the ways in which they express themselves. 'Expressions
in Freedom' is a festival celebrating documentary films by Asian women.
The festival seeks to open up a space for debate on creative processes
enriched by women's quest for freedoms of expression.
The festival features films from 5 different countries - India, Sri
Lanka, Pakistan, Palestine & Nepal. Apart from documentaries, the
festival includes animation films, talks and special presentations.
Some films being shown (like Deepa Dhanraj's 'Something Like A War')
are landmark in the history of documentaries in India. The festival
also showcases the work of several well known directors like Mira Nair
(India Cabaret), Nilita Vachani (When Mother Comes Home For Christmas),
Paromita Vohra (UnLimited Girls) and others. There are acclaimed contemporary
works from Safina Uberoi (My Mother India), Kirtana Kumar (Guhya), Sherna
Dastur (Manjuben Truck Driver)... and much more.
A very special event is the screening of films made by rural women about
their lives and issues. The women will be coming to present about how
the act of making films empowers them.
IAWRT is an international
non-profit organization of women working in electronic and allied media.
It seeks to enhance the electronic media by ensuring that women's views
and values become an integral part of programme making. ( www.iawrt.org
For Further Information
contact: Kavita Joshi - 26511337 res / 26518315 off OR: Jai Chandiram,
President IAWRT (26171259 / 98112-77004)
SCHEDULE*: 8th March 2005, Tuesday
10:30 AM INAUGURATION
incl. screening of
LINE OF CONTROL
a film by Surekha 3 min / 2003 / India
An ant moves within a boundary. It is a mere pen mark. And yet the ant
hesitates to cross the line of control and come out of the boundary.
Will it, finally? Or wont it? This spontaneous work examines how one
behaves when confronted with imaginary boundaries.
11:30 AM: BREAK
12:00 NOON UNLIMITED
GIRLS by Paromita Vohra 94 min / 2002 / India
Reflective in tone
and playful in its form, 'UnLimited Girls' asks questions about feminism
in our lives: why must women lead double lives, being feminist but not
saying they are? How do we make sense of love and anger, doubt and confusion,
the personal and the political in this enterprise of pushing the boundaries,
of being un-limited? The tale is told through the conversations of a
narrator called Fearless who encounters diverse characters - feminists,
yuppies, college kids, a woman cab driver, a
priest, academics - all talking of their engagements with feminism.
01:45 PM: LUNCH
02:30 PM: UNTIL
WHEN. by Dahna Abourahme 76 min / 2004 / Palestine, USA
Set during the current
Intifada, this documentary follows four Palestinian families living
in Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. Fadi, just 13, cares for his
4 younger brothers; the Hammash family believe in living life with humour
and passion; Sana, a single woman endures long commutes to do community
work; and Emad and Hanan are a young couple trying to shield their daughter
from the harsh realities of the occupation. Through their joys and sorrows,
'Until When.' paints an intimate portrait of Palestinian lives today.
03:45 PM: BREAK
04:00 PM MY MOTHER
INDIA A film by Safina Uberoi 52 min / 2002 / Australia
This film tells
the story of a mixed marriage set against the tumultuous backdrop of
modern Indian history. It focuses on the filmmaker's own quirky family:
an Indian Sikh father who collects kitsch calendars; an Australian mother
who hangs her knickers out to dry in front of the horrified neighbours
in Delhi; a grandfather who was a self-styled Guru' and a seething grandmother
who grows to despise him. What begins as a quirky and humorous documentary
about an eccentric, multicultural upbringing unfolds into a complex
commentary on the social, political and religious events of the anti-Sikh
riots of 1984 that changed the destinies of the family.
05:00 PM TALK: Uma
Chakravarti: Alternative Spaces for Alternatives Texts (30 min)
05:30 PM: BREAK
06:30 PM LADIES
SPECIAL A film by Nidhi Tuli 29 mins / -- / India
'Ladies Special' travels on a Mumbai train reserved wholly for women.
For a brief while, the camera, crew and viewers become part of the spontaneous
community of women that this train has engendered. With women boarding
the same bogey daily, lives are shared, vegetables are chopped, birth
ceremonies are celebrated, and clothes bought, as the 50 km journey
becomes a space suspended unto itself. Many women speak of the commute
as a cherished time when they can be themselves, instead of wives and
mothers and workers and housewives. Ladies Special is a celebration
of their lives.
followed by GIRL
SONG A film by Vasudha Joshi 29 min / -- / India
This film enters
the life of Anjum Katyal, blues singer, poet and mother, capturing her
voice as she performs the blues in her home city of Kolkata, as she
reads from her journal to her daughter, as she converses with her mother
and her daughter about the multi-religious, multi-cultural heritage
that she so proudly owns to, and as she talks of confronting the climate
of hostility and distrust towards minorities spreading through the country.
In her interactions with her mother and her daughter, we see how a cultural
identity proudly woven from many strands is increasingly under threat
from narrow and exclusionist definitions of identity.
followed by INDIA
CABARET A film by Mira Nair 60 min / -- / India
By focusing on a group of female strippers who work in a nightclub in
the suburbs of Bombay, 'India Cabaret' explores the "respectable"
and "corrupt" stereotypes that typify women in contemporary
Indian society. The film tells their story, relating their hopes and
fears while respecting their pride and resilience. In the process, it
reveals the rules and double standards of a deeply patriarchal society.
SCHEDULE* FOR: 9th
March 2005, Wednesday
10:30 AM Sri Lankan
films from the Reconciliation Series, and a talk with
including a scrng.
of: RAJESHWARI Sharmini Boyle, Siyangka Nawaz 25 min / 2003 / Sri Lanka
is part of a television series that explore situations of conflict and
their impact on the lives of the Sri Lankan people. The series, as the
name suggests, promotes reconciliation and peace. 'Rajeshwari' is the
story of the experiences of a woman who was affected by the conflict
in Sri Lanka. The programme also includes screenings of shorts (5 -
10 mins each) from other episodes of the series, like:- Women Waging
Peace (mothers and war)- Defiant Art (women and language)
11:30 AM: BREAK
12:00 NOON MANJUBEN
TRUCK DRIVER A film by Sherna Dastur 52 min / 2002 / India
Manjuben has broken
the gender stereotypes that are part of the social landscape she inhabits.
She has created an identity for herself against social, cultural and
economic odds, commanding respect from the community. This identity
is deliberately 'male' - that of a macho trucker, drawn from several
popular notions of maleness. Yet Manjuben defies simple categorization.
Though she lives a free life compared to the other women in her society,
she is just as patriarchal as the next person. In other words, Manjuben
is no crusader.
OF LOVE & LAND
A film by Samina Mishra 24 min / 2001 / India
Randhir Singh and Darshan Kaur's grandchildren grow up together in a
prosperous home in a village near Amritsar. The children - 3 girls,
3 boys - go to the same school, eat together and often even play together.
Yet there are borders that demarcate their lives. Set against the backdrop
of an alarming and continuously declining sex ratio in the region, 'Of
Love and Land' examines the boundaries that limit the lives of little
01:45 PM: LUNCH
02:30 PM TALK: Shohini
Ghosh: "Documentaries of Self and Sexuality" (30 min)
03:00 PM IN THE
FLESH A film by Bishakha Datta 53 min / 2002 / India
An intimate account of what it is like to be in prostitution, this film
revolves around 3 people: Shabana, a street-smart woman working the
dark highways outside Bombay; Uma, an aging theatre actress who lives
in a brothel in Calcutta where she earlier worked; and Bhaskar, a trans-gendered
person who sells sex to men. We see their lives unfold - their workplaces,
their stories, their daughters, mothers, lovers, passions... We see
them as they pick up customers, fight AIDS in their communities, battle
violence through collective action. We see them as they are - human
beings struggling for a space in society.
04:00 PM: BREAK
04:30 PM GUHYA A
film by Kirtana Kumar 55 min / 2000 / India
Today in India,
we live in an aggressively patriarchal time. Modernity is equated with
homogeneity and the complex nature of female sexuality is offered up
at the altar of Nationhood. But thanks to the co-existence of diverse
sexual and socio religious practices, there still exist residual memories
of a past where the Goddess is worshipped, and communities where the
female principle is considered life-affirming. This film asserts that
our attempts to eradicate such practices in the name of development
are born of our essentially patriarchal mores.
followed by ORANGE
a film by Geetanjali Rao 4 mins / 2003 / India
'Orange' is a conversation
between two women about love and relationships, over a drink on a rain
drenched evening. The film uses animation in vivid shades of orange
to express moods and feelings.
06:30 PM TALK: Patricia
Uberoi: "The Family in Media: Shaping our views"
followed by WHEN
MOTHER COMES HOME FOR CHRISTMAS A film by Nilita Vachani
109 min / 1995 / India, Greece, Germany
is a migrant worker from Sri Lanka who has spent the last ten years
taking care of the families of others. She currently works in Greece,
lavishing care on 2 year-old Isadora whose own mother works in Paris.
Josephine's children meanwhile have been left to relatives and orphanages
- she hasn't seen them in ten years. Finally she has a work visa and
can travel back to them for Christmas. Through her story, we witness
the restructuring of an entire society where women have become the breadwinners
in a foreign land. Ironically it is their gender functions that lead
them to 'economic freedom', though never in the context of their own
families and culture.
8:30 PM: CLOSE
SCHEDULE FOR*: 10th
March 2005, Thursday
10:00 AM BORN TO
SING by Shikha Jhingan 44 min / 2002 / India
Born to Sing is
a musical journey with four Mirasans, who sing life-cycle songs for
their patrons in Punjab. The film explores a rich musical and oral tradition
kept alive by these women across religious boundaries. What is the nature
of their relationship with their land-owning patrons? What happens when
Punjabi pop music takes the entertainment industry by storm? The films
grapples with these concerns faced by women who find themselves shunted
out of their expressive traditions. At another level, the film also
evokes memories of partition and the resilience of the composite culture
of the Malwa region of Punjab.
followed by THE
BROKEN SPINE A film by Ein Lall 30 min / 2001 / India
Nalini Malani is
one of India's leading painters and installation artist. Her work is
political and gendered, even as it is subtle and layered. This film
portrays the conflicting yet complementary tones in her work. We see
life in the Lohar Chawl where Malani has her studio; we see the people
that power her work; we see what moves her. The film travels from work
to work, from painting to installation to beachside where Malani draws
on the shifting sands. Formally, it creates juxtapositions that draw
the viewer into the inner world of the artist.
11:30 AM: BREAK
12:00 NOON A FEW
THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER A film by Anjali Panjabi 30 min /
2002 / India
Mirabai, a sixteenth century poetess is a cultural icon in India. Her
images and stories swamp our popular culture. She was a princess who
rebelled. Her poems versed in a religious idiom speak of personal choices
and questioned the social hierarchies of her time. The conflicts expressed
in her poetry however, do not tally with popular notions that choose
to see her only as a pious saint. The film explores some of these contradictions.
It travels through the towns and villages and vast deserts of Rajasthan
in search of Mira. On the journey, it discovers the many ways in which
Mirabai still sings to us.
followed by THREE
WOMEN AND A CAMERA by Sabeena Gadihoke 56 min / 1998 /
is India's first professional woman photographer, whose career spanned
three decades from the 1930s; Sheba Chhachhi and Dayanita Singh are
contemporary photographers who started work in the 1980s. Vyarawalla's
work underscores the euphoria of the birth of a nation, while Chhachhi
and Singh grapple with the complexities and undelivered promises of
the post independence era. This film debates the shifts in their concerns
regarding representation and subject-camera relationships. It seeks
to contextualise their work through their photographs and explores how
their identity as women shapes this work in turn.
01:45 PM: LUNCH
2:30 PM HINA A film
by Beena Sarwar 8 min / 2004 / Pakistan
Hina is the first
girl in her family to attend college and contemplate a career rather
than marriage. But this apparent freedom has come at a terrible cost:
it was the death of Hina's father (the family's sole breadwinner) that
forced her mother to take charge of her own life and family in a society
which frowns upon women stepping outside the home even for education.
The conflicts that 17 year-old Hina faces as her horizons expand lend
poignancy to her aspirations. She is determined to not only to become
self reliant but also to care for her ailing mother once her 4 older
sisters marry and leave.
followed by DAUGHTERS
OF EVEREST By Ramyata Limbu, Sapana Sakya 56 min /
2004 / Nepal, USA
In 2000, the first
ever expedition of Nepalese women to climb the Everest was organised.
Although the Sherpa people of Nepal are legendary for their unmatched
skills in mountaineering, Sherpa women are discouraged from climbing,
relegated instead to the support roles in the climbing industry. Told
from a women's perspective, rarely seen on Everest or off it, this film
gives a close-up account of the expedition and its impact on the lives
of the women - not just the climbers but the women of Nepal.
03:35 PM: BREAK
04:00 PM PRESENTATION:
Women of Deccan Development Society - Community Media Trust (Idpapally
Mollamma and Edakupalli Sooremma): A case for autonomous community media.
including the screening of
TEN WOMEN & A CAMERA By the women of DDS - CMT 9 mins / 2003 / India
The Deccan Development
Society's Community Media Trust has been training rural women to use
video to articulate their concerns. Making a film thus becomes a process
of learning to speak up, to be heard, be counted. Made by the women
themselves, this film looks how the act of making films for over six
years and this process of filmmaking itself has impacted on them and
their lives. This presentation by the women of DDS will also include
clips from their other works, like:- Sangam Shot, BT Cotton, and other
05:00 PM WHO WILL
MEND MY FUTURE : Plan India + a team of 12 year olds - Hemlata and Savita
10 min / -- / India
During adolescence, young girls are denied the information they need
to understand the changes in their bodies. When she is experiencing
acute confusion, the teenage girl is fed a steady diet of mumbo jumbo.
Instead of information, all she gets is stony silence from her teachers.
Instead of counsel, all she gets from her mother is yet more restrictions
on her scarce freedoms. This film shows how such attitudes wreak havoc
in the lives of teenage girls, especially those living in conservative
communities. An animation film, it has been directed by 12 year old
girls as part of a workshop.
The film will be
accompanied by an informal presentation where the young filmmakers and
representatives from PLAN India will share their experiences on making
and screening this film.
06:30 PM YEH GULISTAN
HAMARA A film by Fareeda Mehta 30 min / 2003 / India
The film looks at communities that live 'behind walls', and the possible
cultural, political and economic reasons for doing so. Within 'mixed
societies' people may be united by economic necessity but prejudices
often run deeper than the words uttered in interviews. The film works
with images from a small town magic show and from 'video' to build a
narrative of longing and a socially constructed amnesia that feeds on
followed by I LOVE
MY INDIA Directed by Tejal Shah 10 min / 2003 / India
After the Godhra incident in February 2002, India witnessed the killing
of over 3000 Muslims in Gujarat. A year after the genocide, this film
takes place at a popular public recreation space - a balloon-target
shooting stall. Dark and bitterly funny, it uses the opinion poll format
to satirise our generalised understanding of social and political injustices;
and critiques the practice of electoral democracy in India by employing
the metaphor of random target practice.
followed by SOMETHING
LIKE A WAR A film by Deepa Dhanraj 53 min/ -- / India
Launched in 1952,
India's family planning programme was formulated in collaboration with
Western population control experts. It is based on the assumption that
irresponsible, anti-national breeding by the poor is the main cause
of the nation's backwardness and that population control is the magic
key to success. Despite brutal coercion, the programme has failed in
its objective of drastically reducing the birth rate. The film traces
the history of the programme, exposing the cynicism, corruption and
brutality that characterise its implementation. It questions the programme
from the perspective of women, who are its primary victims.
8:30 PM: CLOSE
* schedule subject to changes; please confirm at venue.