Cannes, Venice, IIFM: Film festivals give voice to Indian female filmmakers

Noted women directors talk about how global film festivals are now providing a platform to showcase their work
Filmmakers Rohena Gera, Rima Das and Gauri Shinde
Filmmakers Rohena Gera, Rima Das and Gauri Shinde
Updated on Aug 09, 2021 12:14 PM IST
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ByJuhi Chakraborty

There is euphoria, in general, about how the film world is acknowledging that female voices have been underrepresented for too long, and now making amends. While Cannes Film Festival, in a first, reportedly had 20 female filmmakers in its Official Selection, including Competition, Un Certain Regard, and the newly-created Cannes Premiere section, women directors accounted for 44% of the competition at Venice Festival last year, according to Variety.

At the Toronto Film Festival last year, women makers were behind nearly half of the films screened.

Rohena Gera, whose film Sir toured several international film festivals before releasing in India on an OTT platform to a resounding response, feels that such screenings give massive reassurance to filmmakers about their product.

Sir had its premiere at Cannes, after which it was screened at many other festivals around the world. It released in many European countries and also Japan. Film festivals are really providing a great platform for voices of female filmmakers,” she shares.

Fillmmaker Gauri Shinde, whose films have toured various films festivals adds, “Film festivals are extremely important. They allow all kinds of films that may not necessarily be able to have a commercial platform, to be showcased. Film festivals also look out for very alternative unique talent and it’s extremely encouraging to all kinds of filmmakers to be able to have a platform.”

Even this year, Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) have a record number of 32 women filmmakers whose films are officially selected and will be screened this year.

National Award-winning director Rima Das, whose film For Each Other will be screened at IFFM, is happy that a change is in motion.

“World over male filmmakers outnumber women filmmakers by a large margin, the stories are also often told from a male’s perspective. Even the top international festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Berlin are seeing a gradual rise in films by women filmmakers and women jury members. It may take another 10 years to see a significant change. But I am very happy that there is a serious attempt to see stories from women’s voice and perspective,” she adds.

Makers of documentaries and short films, too, are getting due recognition.

Director Karishma Dube, whose short film Bittu will be screened at IIFM, shares, “It’s a massive honour for me. Making a short film comes with no guarantee that it will find an audience or platform, so for the film to find a home all the way across the world means the world to me. I hope I can attend the festival in person someday soon.”

Shuchi Talati, whose short film documentary A Period Piece is selected at IFFM, says that she is thrilled that is in such incredible company and part of the rise of female voices in Indian cinema.

“I made A Period Piece for women, so that we could see ourselves, our sexuality and bodies represented on screen from a female and feminist gaze, and I can’t wait to see the stories the other women at the festival have chosen to turn their lens on,” she tells us.

Akriti Singh, whose directorial debut Toofaan Mail was recently named best film (youth choice) at the UK Asian Film Festival, believes such a fest is a great platform to showcase a film, especially for newcomers.

“It was a virtual screening and despite that I got so much love for the film, audiences from so many countries got to watch it and they shared such great reviews with me,” says Singh, who also stars in the film, based on a true incident from 1970s, where a woman arrived at the New Delhi railway station, claiming to be the Queen of Awadh, seeking to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

She goes on to add, “Film festivals are always a great platform to showcase a film, especially if you are new in the field and it gives you a great validation too. Even back home, it really amplifies the chances of getting potential buyers as well.”

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