Monday, February 24, 2020


Introduction to the 16th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival by Festival Director Surabhi Sharma and Co-Director Priya Thuvassery

We are proud and indeed privileged to be a part of the team that has shaped the 16th edition of The IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival. The breadth of the entries that we received this year in terms of genre, form, themes and cultural contexts was staggering. From student films to films made by established professionals in the field, we received a breathtaking array of voices and visions of women observing, interrupting, reflecting on and expressing their worlds. Each film adds to a delicate and dazzling tapestry of ideas and articulations by women filmmakers in Asia. 

52 films representing 15 countries made by Asian women filmmakers will be screened along with other highlights at the 16th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival. We received 700 entries and the number of excellent films we could not include in the festival almost equalled the number of films we did select. That indicates the quality of entries and gives a sense of the exciting films that women are making. We are proud to be screening not only films which have already been recognised at prestigious international film festivals but also ones which will have their World premieres at our event.

We felt it is important to discuss and deepen our understanding of the myriad paths women take to make the films they want to. Many of the films being made by women offer a glimpse of lives and histories that remain unrecorded or under-represented. This prompted the design of our workshop, We Make Cinema, that is divided into two sessions, We Archive Histories and We Produce Films. In the section titled Women and Photography we look at stories embedded within the single still image by inviting photographers and a photography archivist to present their work. Her Upside Down Gaze is an attempt to bring together films that stretch and jostle the genres that tend to box film practice. This is a selection of Asian filmmakers who are not merely experimenting but are shifting and shaping a distinct film language. Our country-focus in this edition is on the United Arab Emirates and we bring together three very different films that offer multiple lens to get a glimpse of lives in the UAE that go beyond the stereotype that the rest of the world have about this region. 

Women filmmakers offer a way to listen and to see the world through the prism defined by themes such as environment, democracy, gender, migration, sexuality, citizenship.... Welcome to another edition of films by Asian women. 

Note by Nupur Basu, Managing Trustee IAWRT India Chapter

In the summer of 2019 I sat in on an animated discussion in a room full of women filmmakers and curators in Turkey's capital city, Ankara . The occasion was a round table to share experiences on 'why we do what we do'. The women participants were from nine different countries. Besides the host country ,Turkey, they were from France, Germany, Portugal, Lebanon, Canada, Chile, Spain and I was from India. The participants were all representing film festivals that were exclusively made by women filmmakers.

The consensus around the table was that these spaces were sacrosanct and needed to be preserved,however challenging the task. The oldest women-only festival was from France and was into its 43rd edition . The youngest was from Lebanon - just two editions old.

In our 16th edition of our IAWRT Asian Women's Film festival I am convinced like never before that this exclusive non competitive cinema space we have created for Asian women directors in India needs to be nurtured.

As the world passes through turbulent times politically and democracies are under strain, the inner reflections of women filmmakers on what they make of this chaos,finds expression in their cinematic craft. After all, in cinema, the personal is political.

Whether it is a Senegalese woman working as a dress model in Istanbul , a Vietnamese architect trying to make a successful career in London or South East Asian women migrants working in Abu Dhabi, in film after film the protagonists ask searching questions on identity, migration, separation and loss . Memory and dreams often become the escape device for survival.

In its 16th edition of the festival through 51 films, an evocative photography exhibition by four women photographers and a workshop titled "We Make Cinema", IAWRT again showcases the range and aspirations of Asian women filmmakers .

Come and relish the magic of these creative expressions...the images, we are sure, will embed in your memory for a long time to come.

Screening Schedule for the 16th IAWRT ASIAN WOMEN'S FILM FESTIVAL

Friday, February 21, 2020


The 16th edition of the IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival in partnership with the India International Centre (IIC) will be held from March 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2020 at the IIC, New Delhi.

4th March 2020 : Workshop - Conference Room 2 IIC

Session One: We Archive Stories 10 am - 1.00 pm

The first session brings together filmmakers, historians, publishers of feminist literature, archivists to discuss the myriad ways in which women filmmakers document histories, lives, labour and art.

Session Two: We Produce Films 2 pm - 6.30 p

The second session brings together producers, funding organisations, festival curators, distribution agencies and filmmakers to discuss the many paths and strategies available to women filmmakers to negotiate the process of making and distributing a film.

5th to 7th March
9 am to 9 pm, C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium, IIC

This year we were able to select 52 films from 15 countries from more than 700 entries. These will be screened over three days of the festival. (Film synopsis given below)
Women and Photography: Exhibition March 4 to 7.
Presentations- March 5 and 6

As filmmakers we are interested in the syntax and grammar of seeing and reading photography images produced by women. For this edition of the IAWRT Asian Women's film festival we have mounted a special exhibition of selected works of Özge Calafato, Masrat Zara, Sanna Irshad Mattoo and Roanna Rahman

March 5, 6 and 7 : 10 am to 5 pm

Conference hall 1

Workshop and experience zone by Canon where filmmakers/ students can have hands-on experience of the latest cameras.

Archiving histories By Özge Calafato : 5th March , 4.30pm

Distaff side gaze from the Valley By Masrat Zahra & Sanna Irshad Mattoo : 6th March, 3.30pm



Directed by Sreedevi K Girijan
Short fiction | 13mins | Malayalam | India | 2018

An old woman relives her past in the present. Memories mingle with dreams that remain unfulfilled. She journeys through the images from her past in her quest for answers.


Directed by Kivilcim Akay
Non-Fiction | 70 mins | Turkish, French, Wolof | Turkey | 2019

Amina is a 29-year-old Senegalese woman who works as a dress model in a textile company in Istanbul. Leaving her daughter behind, she immigrated to Turkey seven years ago to earn money and to take care of her child’s needs. As an African woman living in Turkey , Amina faces many challenges.


Directed by Samira Norouznaseri 
Short | 15 mins | Persian | Iran | 2017

Arghavan is excited to see her father on her 9th birthday.


Directed by Aidana Topchubaeva
Documentary | 20 mins 44 secs | Kyrgyz/ Kyrgyzstan | 2019

Nine-year-old Ayana is preparing to become a player of the national game of warriors - Kokboru. She dreams of becoming the first girl Kokboru player in the history of this game. Ayana believes her dream will become a reality because of the support of her parents. Her coach ,Tilek Mukaev, is her father, a famous Kokboru player.


Directed by Laxmi Marikar
Short Fiction | 22 mins 34 secs | Malayalam | India | 2019

Two friends share a close relationship and revel in the time they spend together. A sudden disruption in their lives leads them to the crossroads of love and the overlapping nature of relationships. This in turn forces a shift in the visceral and intense feelings they have for each other.


Directed by Gitanjali Rao
Animation | 98 mins | Hindi | India | 2019

This beguiling and topical animated feature written, designed, and directed by Gitanjali Rao follows multiple characters, each connected by a single red rose, as they navigate life and love in a sprawling Indian metropolis.


Directed by Rasita Kartarahardja
Animation | 1 mins 06 secs | English | China | 2019

Boxed is a short film about an introvert. Through isolation, it leaves itself to wander in its subconscious, dealing with its inner duality and exploring in one's self


Directed by Cheng Qiu
Animation | 2 mins 32 secs | Chinese | China | 2018

A short film about anxiety and dreams.

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.


Directed by Xintong Wang
Animation | 3 mins 40 secs | Chinese(Zhejiang dialect) | China | 2019

Devil Fish is an experimental animation about the mad illusion of a man with paranoia.

In this animation, a patient tells the story of how he ate an octopus. The doctor thinks this is just another one of the many crazy monologues of a psychopath, but after receiving a message, he cannot help connect the message to the story.


Directed by Mai May Sakarwah
Experimental | 6 mins 43 secs | Chin | Myanmar | 2019

The film is about a girl who stops dreaming and starts dying.

11. GONE

Directed by Samaneh Fazlolah Asadi
Short Animation | 1 mins 40 secs | Persian | Iran | 2019

The last moments of an immigrant's farewell to her homeland and loved ones.


Directed by Maryam Mohajer 
Fiction, Short, Animation | 4 mins 35 secs | Persian | Iran | 2019

My Grandad was a romantic. He once saw a picture of my granny and realised she was the love of his life. One day he decided to go meet her.


Directed by Farha Khatun
Non Fiction | 50 mins | Urdu | India | 2019

Safia, a devout Muslim woman from Bhopal joins a program for training women as Qazis. It is through the lived experience of Safia Apa and several other women who joined the program that the film comments on the arbitrariness of the instant triple talaq practice.


Directed by Ghazaleh Razavi
Documentary | 24 mins 59 secs | Persian | Iran | 2019

This is the story of an eighty year Armenian man who once was a sailor, now lives alone in Tehran and is planning to marry a young girl.


Directed by Maheen Mirza and Rinchin
Non-fiction | 65 mins | Hindi | India | 2018

Rural, Adivasi women from the villages of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh talk about their struggles and the challenges they are forced to confront.


Directed by Bilen Sevda Konen
Documentary, Experimental, Short | 17 mins 38 secs | Turkish | Turkey | 2019

Dilara decides to go out at night. Her flatmate criticises Dilara about her clothes triggering self doubts in Dilara. She begins questioning and comparing herself with every woman she comes across and remembers from her past. A surprise ending awaits Dilara who gets back home late at night, exhausted by her shattered self-esteem.


Directed by Ashique VS, Faisal CS, Nabina Chakraborty, Irshada Ayoub, Roshni Kazmi, Sherin T Koshy 
Non-fiction | 28 mins 28 secs | Hindi | Mewati | India | 2019

'Iq rah- one path, many journeys' is a documentary film on the lives of children in Madrassas in Mehrauli, Delhi. It tries to depict the dreams and aspirations of these children.


Directed by Archana Chandrashekar/
Non-fiction | 34 mins | English | India | 2019

The film presents the enchanting life in the forest through the eyes of children until the moment when it has to contend with the stark reality of a forest fire.


Directed by Mehvish Rather
Documentary | 19 mins 28 secs | Kashmiri | India | 2019

Three women filmmakers narrate the history of a barely remembered baking tradition. The film focuses on the different kinds of traditional Kashmiri bread and the bakers who are trying to keep this tradition alive.


Directed by Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
Experimental, Non-fiction | 37 mins 18 secs | Hindi, English, Tamil, Bengali | India | 2019

Kere mattu Kere dwells in the peripheries of a polluted lake in Bangalore where the act of observation is interrupted by flying foam, noxious gases, daydreams, and questions from passers-by. The film is an attempt to see the lake as a 'toxic commons’, a polluted place that is nevertheless a place for ‘commoning’.


Directed by Yucong Chen 
Short, Student | 20 mins | Mandarin, Taiwanese, English | China | 2019

A Chinese "study mama" considers her daughter Nana as her most prized posession, sometimes imagining both of them in her fantasy world. But after having a fight this morning, she finds Nana is missing.

22. MAA TUKI (Find Me, Mother)

Directed by Suchana Saha
Short Animation | 4 mins 11 secs | English | India | 2018

A 25-year-old takes care of her mother in a hospital. They revel in nostalgic memory until they are forced to confront an undesirable change in their lives. This is a story of how they come to terms with this change.


Directed by Prachee Bajania
Non- fiction | 19 mins 08 secs | Marathi, Persian, English, Gujarati | India | 2018

The film draws thematic parallels with the poetry of Zeb-un-Nissa and positions her work in an environment of loss and forgetting.


Directed by Eshwarya Grover 
Non fiction/ 13 mins 40 secs/ Hindi/ India/ 2018

When Saira & Salim visit their old house it unfolds memories and conversations from a place they once called ‘home’.

25. MIU

Directed by Yael Lotem
Fiction/ 19 mins 16 secs/ English and Cantonese/ Israel/ 2019

These are the final days of Miu, a colourful young man who moved to London from Hong-Kong to become a successful architect. Combining re-enactments and interviews with the few people who knew him, Miu is about the anonymity of being a foreigner in a big city and how easy it is to lose your way.

26. MOD BHANG (The Ebb Tide)

Directed by Renu Savant
Non fiction | 60 mins | Marathi | India/2019

Shot through the monsoon in the creek of Mirya village, this film is a documentation of its fisherfolk. It brings out their working rhythms, dreams and desires, generational legacies of hard labour and their relationships to the sea and the fish as a sacred natural resource.


Directed Hai Di Nguyen 
Short | 20 mins | English and Vietnamese | Vietnam | 2019

“No More Than This” is a surrealist film about Nam Nguyen, a 57-year-old Vietnamese man who lives alone and works as a museum guard.

Nam has a daughter from a failed marriage whom he seldom sees. He tries to connect with other people but fails. He came to the UK as a refugee and although he has lived here for years he still feels invisible and does not feel he belongs in British society. One day his worst nightmare appears to come true, that in some sense, he no longer exists.


Directed by Devshree Nath
Documentary | 20 mins 05 secs | Assamese, Bengali | India | 2019

This documentary traces one man’s struggles of losing his identity. The film delves deep into his state of mind; of a person who is on the verge of losing almost everything he has.


Directed by Fatemeh Mohammadi 
Short/ 15 mins/ Persian/ Iran/ 2018

Mehrbanoo’s husband is suffering from Alzheimer’s. She tries everything to make his life worth living and meaningful. But rental issues and the absence of their children and grandchildren take their toll.


Directed by Mahoor Mirshakkak 
Documentary, Short/ 20 mins/ Persian/ Iran/ 2019


Forough Farrokhzad is one of the most influential women in the contemporary history of Iran. Her artistic achievements, as a poet and filmmaker, has had a deep influence on the Iranian art world. Fifty one years after her suspicious death at the age of 32, her radical lifestyle continues to influence many from different strata of Iranian society. Women aged 18 to 48 participated in a video interview and expressed their personal opinion about Forough Farrokhzad's impact on their lives.


Directed by Nishtha Jain, Deepti Gupta
Fiction/ 21 mins/ Hindi/ India/ 2019

Amandeep will never forget his time as a junior gynaecologist in a government hospital in Delhi. He was conscientious, which rendered him unfit for the system. The ‘women’s ward’ was a microcosm of women's lot in society. If he harboured any ideas about changing the system, he would have to search deeper, perhaps begin with himself.

32. SH'HAB

Directed by Amal Al-Muftah 
Short | 13 mins | Arabic | Doha | 2018

Upon hearing a myth about falling stars, a young girl's curiosity is sparked. When night falls on AlWakrah village, she sets out on her father's boat, with the assistance of her older brother, to chase the fabled comets.


Directed by Rebana Liz John
Non-Fiction | 27 mins 35 secs | English, Malayalam | India | 2018

The film is an exploration of the filmmaker's father's life as a seafarer in increasingly tough global conditions. Set in Mumbai, the view outside the window, is a voyage into the liminal spaces created by mental illness.


Directed by Deepti Gupta
Documentary | 85 mins | English, Hindi, Odia | India | 2019

Shut up Sona is a film about today's India at odds with the modern Indian woman. It is an intimate journey with Sona Mohapatra, singer, performer, troublemaker by choice!


Directed by Reema kaur, Shashank Walia
Short Non-Fiction | 28 mins 48 secs | Hindi/Marathi | India | 2019

An essay film exploring the universe of a city with an observational form. An old man, also a photographer, tells a tale of the city in which he has spent his lifetime, opening up the idea of a colony, a commune and how a city is reborn constantly to accommodate newer narratives.


Directed by Rhea Matthews
Short Fiction | 30 mins | English, Malayalam, Hindi |  India | 2018

The film revolves around the story of a couple from different cultural backgrounds who are spending the weekend with the man’s mother on Onam. The wife gets her periods and withdraws from the family. The film looks at the discomfort and prejudice around menstruation.

37. STAROYE DELO (The old Story will Begin again)

Directed by Alexandra Karam
Short | 15 mins | Arabic and Russian | Lebanon | 2019

Passionate and driven by the love of theater, Alissar and Amal were brought together by a play while coming from different nationalities and backgrounds.


Directed by YuHui (Judie) Yang
Short fiction | 15 mins 35 secs | Mandarin, Taiwanese, English  | Taiwan | 2019

Two young girls set out for a secret journey against their parents’ will in order to reconnect back with their grandparents. Their encounter encourages each other, turning their journey into a meaningful and unexpected adventure.


Directed by Shabnam Sukhdev
Non Fiction | 8 mins 30 secs/ English | Canada | 2019

A mother examines her relationship with her daughter and issues of mental health through theatrical role play with diverse women and languages.


Directed by Yili Han
Short | 6 mins | Chinese | China | 2019

Synopsis- As a middle school Chemistry teacher, Chen Jun never loses sight of her originality. Facing pressure from both school and family, Chen Jun uses the flour-explosion experiment to retaliate.


Directed by Cathy LEE Pei Yi
Short | Mandarin, Taiwanese | Taiwan | 29 mins | 2019

Feng-Lou lives with her brother Kun-Jie in a tiny home. Facing the danger of being separated from her, Feng-Lou hides her daughter Ah Xi. One day, Ah Xi saves a black butterfly that flew into the house and Kun-Jie suddenly dies in the attic.


Directed by Yuri Muraoka 
Animation, Experimental | 7 mins 18 secs/ Japan/ 2019

This film is a portrait of my daughters and me and depicts the relationship between “the personality” and “the world / the society” as of 2018.


Directed by Zahra Mirrza
Feature, Music Video, Short | 7 mins 30 secs | English/ Azerbaijan | 2019

Azerbaijan, 1937. A poet for Panturkish ideological ideas was arrested. His daughter comes to the prison to visit her father. The guard does not allow her to come in with a painting she has made for the father because it symbolises freedom. Repeated attempts at changing the painting fails to get her in until she paints a huge tree.The father looks at it and understands the message of freedom.


Directed by Priya Sen
Documentary | 69 mins 45 secs | Hindi | India | 2019

Yeh Freedom Life / This Freedom Life' tries to keep up with its protagonists, as they manoeuvre erratic and unpredictable love. One of them works at a local beauty parlour, the other runs the family’s small cigarette counter at a crowded intersection. They are surrounded by a cacophonous city; they are both in love with other women.

Her Upside Down Gaze
Curator: Afrah Shafiq


Directed by Payal Kapadia
Documentary | 23 mins | Marathi, Hindi | India | 2018

Namdeo has learnt to live off the forest from his father. He stares at the treetops, searching for honey. The wind blows and afternoon descends on the small village by the jungle. Women of the village, whisper little secrets of their lost loves. Never seen, and only heard. A strange smoke emits from the ground, like a dream of a time gone by.


Directed by Ekta mittal
Documentary | Fiction | 80 mins | Hindi, Punjabi, Chhattisgarhi | India | 2018

Ekta Mittal’s latest film combines documentary and fiction in a continuation of Behind the Tin Sheets—a collaborative project conceived in 2009, which focused on the subconscious of migrant workers to big cities. Here, Ekta turns her attention to the absence of those workers from their own towns and rural villages, in an undefined, ethereal space known as Birha.


Directed by Suborna Senjutee Tushee
Fiction | 28 mins | Bengali, Hindi, Marathi | Bangladesh | 2018

The 28-minute long film depicts the simple life of a married couple living in Maharashtra, India, and explores how they deal with pregnancy.


Directed by Yashaswini Raghunandan
Hybrid between Fiction and Non-Fiction | 65 mins | Bengali | India | 2019

Somewhere, not so far from here, the moon turned red and the village evolved into a mirage of unclear activity. A folktale like narrative emerges from a village of toy-makers and sellers in Bengal who cut-up reels and reels of Bollywood, Tollywood and B-grade films to make a living out of loud sounding rattlers, whistles and whirligigs.


Directed by Hansa Thapliyal
Documentary | 25 mins 08 secs | English/ India | 2019

What is art, in our lives? What is home? Can practising art, sharing it, give us a possibility of sharing home in the world?Two dollmakers work in very different ways, with the human form .They choose to work with very simple, sometimes discarded materials. The work gently prises open resistances we have, to empathizing with those facing harsh realities around us. The work playfully loosens up knots of shame and fear.

Country in Focus- UAE
Curators: Subasri Krishnan and Surabhi Sharma


Directed by Farah Al Qasimi
Fiction | 42 mins | English | UAE | 2019

Confessional television documentary following an ancient Jinn called Mother of Fire and her ruminations on the history of the UAE. The film explores colonial meddling and contemporary Eurocentric museum display practice.


Directed by Nujoom Al Ghanem 
Fiction | 86 mins | Arabic | UAE | 2016

Aisha, Fatima and Ghareeb are among the best known honey specialists in the northern parts of the UAE. Ghareeb is also considered a beekeeper because he established a sanctuary at the top of the mountains, where he can be in control of the surrounding environment and protect his honeybees. Fatima and Aisha prefer to roam the mountains freely to find the highest natural honey. Involuntarily, the bees have become integral to the lives of Aisha, Fatima and Ghareeb. But, for how long and to what extent can the bees, affected by climate change, keep providing ?


Directed by Sabrina Zhao
Non-Fiction, Artist, Experimental, Documentary film | 24 mins | Chinese | UAE | 2019

Vicky, I and Herself narrates the drifting subjectivities of Southeast Asian female migrants in Abu Dhabi, blurring the line between reality and fantasy.