IFFM 2021 features films and documentaries by 34 women filmmakers
This year’s line-up includes names like National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das, director of award winning documentary Shut Up Sona, and last year’s winner at Cannes Ashmita Guha Neogi
The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), one of the most popular film festivals, has earned worldwide appreciation this year for its diverse selection of movies from Indian and other countries’ film industries.
IFFM has also created a record this year by picking the most diverse female voices and their works for the nominations of the 12th edition. IFFM recently announced their programming schedule and out of the 100 films chosen, 33 are said to be by strong female voices. Interestingly, women filmmakers involved in not only feature films but also documentaries and short films have been picked this year. Their works spread across several languages including Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Marathi, and other regional languages.
Some of the notable films selected this year include Ludo (Hindi) directed by Anurag Basu, Sherni (Hindi) directed by Amit Masurkar, Soorarai Pottru (Tamil) that is starred and produced by Suriya and directed by Sudha Kongara, and God on the Balcony directed by Biswajit Bora.
The award ceremony will take place virtually on August 20.
IFFM is an annual festival that normally takes place in Melbourne, Australia, and showcases the best of Indian films. However, the 12th edition will be a hybrid with offline and virtual events. Around 100 films would are expected to be screened. Owing to the domination of OTT shows, the festival will also recognise Best Series, Best Performance in a series each under the Actor and Actress category.
Bittu by Karishma Dev Dube, a 17-minute short that questions why humans are the way we are and talks about the trait of negligence in humanity will be screened at the opening night gala of the film festival along with another documentary, Women Of My Billion (WOMB).
Mitu Bhowmick Lange, director of the IFFM festival, says, “It’s been wonderful to see so many incredibly strong and profound stories from female filmmakers. They are feisty, unapologetic, and offer a new perspective. Right from issues about human rights to gender discrimination to emotional human stories, the wide range covers it all. We are very excited and privileged to showcase these films (sic).”
Talking about the screening of her film at the fest, director Karishma Dube says, “It’s a massive honor for me that Bittu will be opening the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Making a short film comes with no guarantee that it will find an audience or platform, so for the film to find a home all the way across the world means the world to me. I hope I can attend the festival in person someday soon (sic).”
National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das, who directed the award-winning documentary Shut Up Sona, says, “It’s good to hear that the Melbourne Indian Film Festival is showcasing a large number of films by women filmmakers. I have closely seen how Mitu Bhowmick (director of IFFM) takes a personal interest in encouraging women filmmakers and having diverse voices. She has been doing a commendable job year after year along with her team and it’s always a pleasure to be back at the festival. I am making my fifth film in my village. If I have to, all my life I can make films in and around my village because I can see so many stories around me. Then imagine how many stories are waiting to be told in a country like India with so much diversity in communities, cultures, languages, etc. Each woman would have different perspectives on freedom, identity, feminism, love, etc. depending on who we are and where we come from. World over, male filmmakers outnumber women filmmakers by a large margin, and the stories are also often told from a male’s perspective. Even the top international festivals like Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin are seeing a gradual rise in films by women filmmakers and women jury members. Maybe it would take another 10 years to see a significant change. But I am very happy that there is a serious attempt to see stories from women’s voice and perspective (sic).”
Shuchi Talati, whose short film documentary on women and their sexualities has been selected at the IFFM, said, “I’m thrilled that A Period Piece is in such incredible company and part of the rise of female voices in Indian cinema. I made A Period Piece for women so that we could see ourselves, our sexuality, and bodies represented on screen from a female and feminist gaze, and I can’t wait to see the stories the other women at the festival have chosen to turn their lens on (sic).”
Director Maanvi Chowdhary, who dedicated the film to her own mother, says, “About Mumma’s selection at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne was very unexpected and I am so glad to share this film at such a diverse platform, stories of disabilities and livelihood need to be shared and my mother’s journey is truly extraordinary, we both are very happy to see our film be part of this festival. I have seen the festival line up for this year and I was so excited to see such incredible stories of women by women, I am actually really excited to see films about period poverty and experiences of women from different parts of India (sic).”