08 Dec 2014 01:32pm IST
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,”