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.