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

Surrey

Surrey mayoral candidates trade jibes over closed-door meetings

Ex-Mayor McCallum calls out opponents Hepner and Rasode for ‘hypocrisy’ LARRISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI With the Surrey election months away, the mudslinging has already begun….
Continue Reading »

India's Supreme Court stays death penalty of man convicted in rape-murder of four-year-old. PNG Archive

Former Abbotsford Hindu priest jailed on sex charges denied parole

Karam Vir is serving a 21/2-year sentence JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A former Hindu priest from Abbotsford who was convicted of sex crimes involving two…
Continue Reading »

India pachydermal love story

Indian elephant heartbroken after partner’s death

VANCOUVER DESI An elephant in India has been diagnosed with a broken heart after its partner died on Tuesday, according to the Hindustan Times. The…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey

Surrey mayoral candidates trade jibes over closed-door meetings

Ex-Mayor McCallum calls out opponents Hepner and Rasode for ‘hypocrisy’ LARRISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI With the Surrey election months away, the mudslinging has already begun….
Continue Reading »

India's Supreme Court stays death penalty of man convicted in rape-murder of four-year-old. PNG Archive

Former Abbotsford Hindu priest jailed on sex charges denied parole

Karam Vir is serving a 21/2-year sentence JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A former Hindu priest from Abbotsford who was convicted of sex crimes involving two…
Continue Reading »

Police tape

Woman found dead in Abbotsford park identified as Mission resident

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police have identified a woman found dead in Mill Lake Park on Wednesday morning as a 36-year-old Mission resident. The…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

India-rape-protest

Minor allegedly raped by temple priest in southern India

HINDUSTAN TIMES An 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a temple priest in Bangalore on Tuesday, less than a month after a seven-year-old was raped…
Continue Reading »

10448541_801823293184201_5325323972611294529_desi

Miss Diva 2014 gears up for auditions

IANS New Delhi – Miss Diva, that was launched last year as an official franchise from India for Miss Universe, is set to start auditions…
Continue Reading »

Scene from Airtel's latest commercial. YouTube/Screengrab.

Indian telecom company’s not so progressive ad featuring a “boss wife” causes Twitter reaction

IANS New Delhi  – Is a woman who calls the shots in the office then goes home to cook for her husband – who’s also…
Continue Reading »

child death

Toddler falls into pot of boiling syrup, dies

  IANS New Delhi – A three-year-old boy died after he fell into a pot of boiling sugar syrup, police said here Wednesday. The child,…
Continue Reading »

Merritt music festival

Headdresses banned from Merritt music festival out of respect to First Nations

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI An electronic music festival this B.C. Day long weekend in Merritt has banned native headdresses from its campgrounds. “Bass Coast Festival…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

SALMAN KHAN

Kick: Salman Khan, Sajid Nadiadwala kick up a storm

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Kick”; Cast: Salman Khan, Randeep Hooda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jacqueline Fernandez; Director: Sajid Nadiadwala; Rating: **** “Kick toh banta hai,…
Continue Reading »

Anish_Paris_2_small

Indian author pens sequel to Jeffrey Archer’s ‘First Among Equals’ for Bollywood film

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Mumbai – In what must qualify as a first in the field of literary adaptations, author-columnist Anish Trivedi has written a…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan joins hands with Indian TV channel to host Indian version of “Got Talent”

IANS Mumbai – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan has joined hands with Hindi general entertainment channel Colors for his return to the small screen. He will…
Continue Reading »