A still from The Nightmare; inset Sapna Bhavnani
A still from The Nightmare; inset Sapna Bhavnani

Hairstylist-turned-filmmaker Sapna Bhavnani brings physical edition of India's first horror film festival Wench

The third edition of the film festival will showcase films inclusive of BIWOC, LGBTQ+ women, and Non-Binary filmmakers will be held physically for the first time in addition to virtual screenings.

The 3rd edition of Wench Film Festival, India's first Horror Film Festival showcasing films inclusive of BIWOC, LGBTQ+ women, and Non-Binary filmmakers, founded by celebrity hairstylist-turned-filmmaker Sapna Bhavnani will be held physically for the first time in addition to virtual screenings. 

Award-winning Mexican film Huesera: The Bone Woman, directed by Michelle Garza Cerver will be the opening film and the festival will see a closure with The Nightmare, directed by Alice Wadding. Other highlights include a special screening of Tumbbad along with panel discussions and music performances.

The festival, with a selection of fantastical and off-beat movies, is trying to bring the female perspective to the centre stage, and  will screen 23 films in the competition out of which 19 will be available to watch online at wenchff.festivalsaints.com. The films will be shown under three different categories, Blood Thirsty (More than 40 mins) Dwarves (10 to 40 mins), and Elves (Less than 10 mins).

The jury judging the three different categories will comprise Annick Mahnert and Shari Frillot (Blood Thirsty), Alexandre Heller-Nicholas (Dwarves) and Namrata Joshi (Elves)

Sapna Bhavnani, Founder of the Wench Film Festival says, “In the process of writing my new film Bearlike Man, I realised a palpable lack of female representation in the genre outfit of India. Over the three decades I looked at, 9.9% of directors were women. Horror comes with just 5.9% of directors being women and Sci-fi 2.8%. I find this statistic offensive. When I found out I was the first Indian woman director to pitch at BIFAN I knew I had to change gears and move the female gaze to the genre space that has eluded it for a long time.

She added, “The goal of the Wench Film Festival is to highlight women but also to promote and celebrate the genre space that has been in our blood since birth. India is a country of many religions and each has their own superstitions and rituals and we are amazed that we don’t have a festival yet. We are happy to start the conversation and like all things that start first, building the foundation is of utmost importance as well as collaborating with people who have been instrumental in building the genre space. We have no doubt of the success of the festival and already have big plans for our halloween bash. When I hear Indians saying they do not like horror I laugh as we are the land of spirituality which starts with spirit. “

Vivek Ranghachari, Development head of the festival says, “I feel that genre cinema has been vilified and is not given the due that it deserves in our country. Worldwide, it is the most successful brand of cinema that has worked over the years with a dedicated audience. We feel that there is a dedicated audience in our country that is looking for quality cinema in this space, and we want to provide that to them through the Wench Film Festival. Through showcasing the best in the world, we want to lay the foundation for future Film-makers and technicians to embrace and make films in this genre.”

The physical screenings will take place from March 17-20 at Harkat Studio and Veda Factory in Mumbai, while the virtual screenings will be held from March 10 – 20. The tickets are available online at insider.in.

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