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

attack on Parliament Hill

Soldier, gunman who died in Ottawa rampage identified (w/photos, video) [updated]

ANDREW DUFFY OTTAWA CITIZEN Updates at 5:10 p.m. Soldier killed in War Memorial confirmed as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo Suspect, reportedly Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed in Centre Block shootout Police call situation…
Continue Reading »

Parliament gunman shot

Shaken Surrey MPs Jasbir Sandhu, Jinny Sims calling from scene of Parliament shooting (w/photos, video)

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW OTTAWA — Surrey MPs Jasbir Sandhu, Jinny Sims and their New Democrat colleagues were in a party caucus meeting in Ottawa…
Continue Reading »

LIBERTY MEDAL

Stephen Harper cancels Malala Yousafzai citizenship ceremony in light of Ottawa shooting

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office says two scheduled events today in Toronto with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai have…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Factbox: Canada s past includes shooting at Quebec s National Assembly in 1984

THE CANADIAN PRESS A gunman killed a soldier at the National War Memorial on Wednesday before being shot in Parliament Hill’s Center Block. Prime Minister…
Continue Reading »

Parliament hill

Narendra Modi condemns ‘extremely disturbing’ Ottawa shootout

IANS New Delhi – Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Wednesday’s shootout near the Canadian parliament in Ottawa as “extremely disturbing”. “News of the attack in…
Continue Reading »

attack on Parliament Hill

Soldier, gunman who died in Ottawa rampage identified (w/photos, video) [updated]

ANDREW DUFFY OTTAWA CITIZEN Updates at 5:10 p.m. Soldier killed in War Memorial confirmed as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo Suspect, reportedly Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed in Centre Block shootout Police call situation…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-Surrey-Festival-India

Diwali celebrations in Vancouver and Surrey

DiwaliFest celebrates its 11th anniversary from Oct. 17 to 26 at various sites in Surrey and Vancouver. Diwali Celebration Friday, Oct. 24 at Firehall Centre…
Continue Reading »

Facebook photo showing Martin Rouleau

Canada is Losing the Values War

UJJAL DOSANJH SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI The dreaded happened in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a quiet historic town in Quebec. Many years ago I stayed there for a…
Continue Reading »

Butter Chicken

Light up Diwali with this delicious dinner: Butter Chicken, Basmati Rice with Peas, Chickpea Masala and Gulab Jamun

Indian festival is a fine reason for a feast BAL ARNESON POSTMEDIA NEWS Diwali is India’s biggest festival. People light candles and divas (small Indian…
Continue Reading »

INDIA-WILDLIFE-ELEPHANT

Heartbreaking photos of two elephants electrocuted in India

IANS Siliguri – Two elephants, including a female, were electrocuted in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Saturday, an official said. The tuskers were found in a…
Continue Reading »

Aman Grewal

Gallery: Army officer’s wife wins Mrs. India Worldwide pageant

IANS New Delhi – Aman Grewal, wife of an army officer, was declared the winner of Haut.Monde Mrs.India Worldwide 2014 here. Grewal, who hails from…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Jackie Chan

First India-China joint venture film starring Jackie Chan launched

HINDUSTAN TIMES Chinese action star Jackie Chan will star in the first Sino-India joint film production slated to go on the floors in the coming…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Saif Ali Khan poses with pants down

IANS New Delhi – Actor-producer Saif Ali Khan was caught and clicked with his pants down while shooting for his new film “Happy Ending”. As…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt says ‘Going Home’ a special short film

IANS Mumbai – If the masses loved her in movies like “Highway” and “Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”, Alia Bhatt has again won many a heart….
Continue Reading »