SHEETHAL J. RAJ
IDSFFK 2011 presents a package of films by women directors, curated by Jai Chandiram of IAWRT(International Association of Women in Radio and Television), former Deputy Director General of Doordarshan. Her take on women’s space in filmmaking and the initiatives of IAWRT …
IAWRT: It started in Europe after World War II by a group of women who were in broadcasting. Even at that time they felt that all opportunities were being given to their male colleagues. The best way to overcome this kind of discrimination was to build a network of their own in professional broadcasting, and thus create their own areas of discussion.
The Asian Chapter: On assuming charge as the first Asian woman professional of the IAWRT, we decided to open chapters wherever there were members. Asian Women’s Festival started seven years ago with the Asia Project under Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan. The focus was on documentaries by Asian women.
Separate, not ‘separated’ segment: With the growing number of works by women filmmakers there was the need for a place for them to focus on their work, not to separate or ghettoise them, but to give a consolidated form, which gave a better understanding of the medium. I’d like to continue this work, because a lot of study materials for scholars and academics emerge from this understanding.
Activities: We travel with the festivals all over India, and combine it with seminars, workshops etc. We make films which are funded projects. We have done a whole series of imaginative stories, which looked at violence on women, domestic violence, state violence and how different countries handle it. Currently we have two projects in India, focussing on Trafficking and Forced Disappearances.
Women into filmmaking: Earlier it was other people telling our story, but now we get to tell our stories – from a woman’s perspective, understanding and sensitivity. A closeness grows when women talk to each other, bringing about a change in the values that are being represented. It is not looking at weepy women, but trying to tell the story with a difference, exploring the whole form of a documentary and dealing with a whole gamut of issues.
Television industry and women: When I started in the 60s, I was breaking into a basically male area, which was very small at that time. You felt unfair many a time, but you did not know what to do. Today, the presence of women in the industry is higher, but very few reach the top and receive deserved honours.
Future of developmental activities: We need to be more creative. You have to have examples, develop statistics and say this has value, and people must talk about the values they have gained. There cannot be a richer story than the one emerging from inspirational experiences shared by people. A systematic exposure over a period of time and a consistency of high standards are crucial to enhance the reach.
IDSFFK 2011: We have a range of very interesting stuff being put up here. And there is not just talking heads or victims but a whole new style of documentary, being unravelled. So, I think it is going to be well received here.