‘Artists’ Cinema’ package trains lens on stories by women directors

Kochi, Feb 08: The critically acclaimed feature Parched will open an upcoming cinema and discussion package comprising works by women directors that will play out on the sidelines of the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).

Titled ‘Indian Cinema: A Female Narrative’, the four-day package – specially curated by award-winning film editor Bina Paul – will examine behind-the-camera work by women in film industries across the country in both the historical and contemporary contexts.

“I believe that women tell stories differently – shaped by both psychological make-up and social conditioning. Many women baulk at being pigeonholed as ‘women filmmakers’. I think what is different in works by women is how the narratives vary. Unfortunately, this uniqueness is very under-represented in Indian Cinema,” Paul said.

Split into three debut directorial features and two documentaries, the package will be shown as part of the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s ‘Artists’ Cinema’ programme. It will run from February 9-12, with shows starting at 6.30 pm at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard.

Starting with Leena Yadav’s Parched (2015), the package will see screenings of Manjadikkuru (Lucky Red Seeds), the popular 2008 feature by Anjali Menon, and author-filmmaker Sreebala K. Menon’s short film Panthibhojanam (The Community Feast, 2009).

The documentaries are Beyond the Wheel (2005) – a nuanced look at activities, crafts and spaces traditionally barred to women, such as the titular potter’s wheel – by Rajula Shah and Madhusree Dutta’s musical documentary on the 12th century saint-poet Mahadevi Akka, Scribbles on Akka (2000).

“For the package, I thought looking at contemporary women looking at contemporary themes was important. The documentaries both have challenging narrative styles and the other three films are by first time filmmakers,” Paul said.

While there is much debate about the so-called ‘male gaze’ or perspective from behind the camera, the package isn’t so much an attempt to discern a corresponding female perspective as it is an inquiry into whether there is a narrative style that arises out of being a woman.

The discussion will be facilitated by a Q&A session with Paul and Leena Yadav following the screening of Parched on Thursday.



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