Herald: Women breaking the mould in cinema
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Women breaking the mould in cinema

08 Dec 2014 01:32pm IST

Report by
Patricia Ann Alvares

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08 Dec 2014 01:32pm IST

Report by
Patricia Ann Alvares

Having made a significant contribution to cinema, in front of and behind the camera, four female film personalities - Sepideh Farsi – Filmmaker, France and Iran; Fatemeh Motamed Arya – Actor and Filmmaker, Iran; Karma Deki – Filmmaker, Bhutan and Seema Biswas-Actor, India – set forth their views at the open forum ‘Women in Cinema – is the glass ceiling being broken?”

Up to the 1960s, women had a largely decorative role in cinema. In the last few decades, the trend is changing, with women playing a more creative role in front and behind the camera. Is the glass ceiling finally breaking?

The panelists agreed that the evolution in the film industry and of women in society itself have greatly contributed to the change. Getting into other fields besides acting, like direction, production or cinematography, they are making an impactful statement in every aspect. Global networking, technology, multiplexes and the rise of many new aspects of filmmaking have created more opportunities for women.

Apparently, the biggest impact has been made in the documentary field. Women are using the medium to address important issues and be a voice for the marginalised. This in turn has become a tool for the empowerment of women.

At the ongoing 45th edition of IFFI, there are just 15 women filmmakers whose works have been showcased. But even that is encouraging considering that in a place like the United States of America, as Sepideh Farsi observed during her visit to the festival in Chicago, only 6 per cent of the films being screened there were by women. To Paris-based Farsi whose film ‘Red Rose’ has been receiving rave reviews, the challenge as a filmmaker is not so much that she is a woman, as it is making a film in Iran which has several restrictions.

One of the first women directors in Bhutan, Karma Deki, has not only been recognised by her country but is an inspiration to young women who aspire to be directors as well. Initially, however, Karma was dissuaded from making her film, with several predictions indicating that it would be a disaster, but she prevailed. Her film, ‘Pattern of Love’ being showcased at the IFFI has proved to be a success.

One of the most important actresses and filmmakers of Iran, Fatemeh Motamed Arya, has never felt the gap between men or women filmmakers. “The matriarchal system is important and is followed in Iran. At home, girls are given more importance than boys. They are empowered and our cinema is a reflection of this aspect of our society.” Her film ‘Nabat’ which is an example of this belief has gone on to win international awards and has also been nominated for the forthcoming Oscars in 2015.

“Freedom,” Fatemeh explains, “is in the mind and no one can damage that. As an artist I never think anyone is more or less, rather how I can push them to think of freedom. The important thing, is that when you to choose a framework to work, the subject should be relevant,” she maintains.

 

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