FILMFEST: Canadian festival shines spotlight on Indian women directors

Published: November 8, 2012

Aamir Khan stars as Arun in Dhobi Ghat. Submitted photo

JENN SHARP
POSTMEDIA NEWS

India is known internationally for its extravagant cinema productions, but a wealth of quality films exist outside the country’s celebrity-fuelled Bollywood culture.

A film festival currently underway at the University of Saskatchewan celebrates these somewhat lesser known films during free weekly screenings in the arts tower. All the films are directed by women. Provided to the university by the High Commission of India in Canada, the Festival of Women Directed Films from India ends Nov. 25.

Satya Sharma, associate professor of anthropology at the U of S, says the films are all outstanding.

“(They are) serious films dealing with realistic situations – portraying the life of women, corruption in government, personal relationships and often with oppression or poverty in the background.”

All but one of the six films is in Hindi, India’s main language. The other is in Marathi and all have English subtitles. Sharma says there are many examples of regional cinema productions in India, apart from the Bollywood film industry in Mumbai. In the early 1970s a new wave of cinema started in India, known as art cinema. In stark contrast to Bollywood movies, independent female directors began making a name for themselves with thought provoking work.

“Some imminent women took the lead there and what we have in the festival is the work of six different women directors,” explains Sharma.

One of these films, Dhobi Ghat, is an unusual romance story set in one of Mumbai’s poorest areas. The film portrays the different social situations in India and why caste still constrains so many people. A famous Bollywood actor named Aamir Khan received international acclaim for his role and created a stir throughout India about the issues raised in Dhobi Ghat.

Sharma says understanding India’s culture is increasingly more important, as its economy grows and more people are travelling there.

“We live in a global world. India and China have become big actors in this global world. India’s economy is among the 10 strongest economies in the world. India is one of the biggest clients of Potash (Corp) and of many agricultural products from Saskatchewan.”

He hopes the festival’s films will encourage people to move away from stereotypical images of the country.

“People portray India either in totally black worlds or totally white; a glamorous world with rich people or a country full of poverty.”

Both are a reality in India, but as a tourist one may never travel to the rural areas and villages where two-thirds of the country’s population lives. Sharma says many of the films at the U of S festival show a rural ethos, which is quite different from the culture in the cities.

Women’s status in India is improving, albeit slowly. The film industry was traditionally male-dominated and most of the films were male-orientated. Sharma says women directors are becoming more common, along with movies that deal with women’s issues. He feels this is an indicator of change for the country.

“Women provide a very different kind of sensitivity and portrayal of culture that often male directors miss.”

A Festival of Women Directed Films from India is held each Sunday at 2 p.m. in 241 Arts on the U of S campus, from Nov. 11 to Nov. 25.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

NOV. 11 – VASTUPURUSH

A 2002 Marathi language film directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar. It deals with the guardian spirit of the house.

NOV. 18 – PHIR MILENGE

A 2004 Bollywood movie directed by South Indian actress Revathi, which deals with the issue of AIDS.

NOV. 25 – DHOBI GHAT

A 2010 Indian-Hindi drama film directed by Kiran Rao in her directorial debut. It’s an unusual story of romance in a very poor part of Mumbai.






Featured

TK

Wounded teen drives himself to Surrey hospital after being shot multiple times

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old male drove himself to hospital in Surrey after being shot multiple times in Newton on Sunday night, according to…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

File photo: The new Surrey City Hall in Surrey, B.C., December 29, 2014. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Surrey named one of top seven most intelligent communities in the world

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The City of Surrey has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Canada should look overseas for growth amid falling oil prices: CPPIB CEO

By Alexandra Posadzki THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — The head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board says oil’s sharp decline has highlighted the need…
Continue Reading »

TK

Wounded teen drives himself to Surrey hospital after being shot multiple times

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI A 17-year-old male drove himself to hospital in Surrey after being shot multiple times in Newton on Sunday night, according to…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

miss canada

Miss Universe Canada scores big buzz online with outlandish hockey costume (w/ photos)

THE CANADIAN PRESS MIAMI — Chanel Beckenlehner is hoping to take home the crown at the Miss Universe pageant, but win or lose, she’s scored…
Continue Reading »

A herd of wild elephants from the nearby Amsung reserve forest roam in a paddy field in search of food, in Hajong Bori village, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Thursday, March 22, 2007. AP Photo/ Anupam Nath

Tourists trampled to death in India after flash of camera sends elephant in ‘mad frenzy’

VANCOUVER DESI An Indian couple has been trampled to death and a tour guide injured after the flash of a camera sent an elephant in…
Continue Reading »

shiamak

Bollywood dance guru Shiamak Davar gets Canadian dignitaries grooving with a dance lesson

VANCOUVER DESI A number of Canadian dignitaries got their very own personal dance lesson from the guru of Bollywood dance himself, Shiamak Davar, while attending…
Continue Reading »

FILE PHOTO: A nine-year-old Palestinian girl  suffering from scoliosis sits as her mother shows her back x-ray as she is treated by U.S. pediatric orthopedic surgeon Hugh Watts (L) February 18, 2004 at Al-Quds hospital, in Gaza City. Abid Katib/Getty Images

Seven-year-old Scoliosis patient in Western India cured by revolutionary surgery

IANS Mumbai  – A seven-year-old girl in Mumbai suffering from Scoliosis is the first in Western India to successfully undergo a new and revolutionary procedure…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

PK-Bollywood sex-desi boobs

Anushka Sharma refuses body double, performs her own stunts in upcoming thriller

JIGAR SHAH HINDUSTAN TIMES When actors don the hat of a producer they don’t mind going the extra mile for their own film. This is…
Continue Reading »

Messenger of God

India’s censor board clears controversial guru’s film MSG

HINDUSTAN TIMES The Censor Board has cleared Messenger of God, the controversial film by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh – self-styled spiritual guru and chief of…
Continue Reading »

Trumpeters from the Indian Border Security Force's Camel Mounted Band play their instruments while riding their camels during the nation's Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. Rain failed to dampen spirits at India's Republic Day parade January 26 as US President Barack Obama became the first US president to attend the spectacular military and cultural display in a mark of the nations' growing closeness. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Bollywood celebs salute Republic Day parade

IANS Mumbai  – On the country’s 66th Republic Day on Monday, a host of film celebrities not just recounted their memories of watching the annual…
Continue Reading »