A lesson to learn: India’s third Women’s International Film Festival
For a Women’s International Film Festival, Inko Centre’s third edition of its annual event in collaboration with Samsung (WIFF 1-9 March) has a generous masculine representation this year at Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Hall and Film Chamber. Another first: these films have been selected by 5 women curators who specialize in European, South American, Latin American, African Diasporic and Asian cinema.The focus on form and structure has made WIFF 2010 listen to many voices from different parts of the globe, speaking of the universal in the local. The Land of No Evil (Anna Recalde, 2008) follows the struggles of human rights activist Martin Almada who discovers Paraguay’s Archives of Terror in the old regime and corruption in the new. The most famous film ever made by a woman director, gives us an astonishing insight into the captivating power of cinema as Leni Riefenstal’s Triumph of the Will, frames Hitler as the “Aryan” warrior at the Nuremberg rally, disguising brutality as heroism. In our drastic re-evaluation of its content, packaged in a still electrifying form, we rediscover how illusion can blind us to reality.
WIFF2010 has must see classics for new entrants into the cineaste fraternity, from Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (Sweden 1973), to Han Hyung –Mo’s Madame Freedom (Korea, 1956), not to forget Balu Mahendra’s Veedu (India 1988), a film so quiet, but speaking so loud!
The festival scores in stories from less known, and remote spaces of the globe, where mere navigation through socio-political arabesques demands Herculean individual and collective struggle. Such films – often by adopting offbeat perspectives– contribute to awareness and understanding. Don’t miss Adela Peeva’s Divorce Albanian Style (Bulgaria, 2007) where women married to Albanian men refuse to leave the totalitarian State as “foreigners”, only to undergo mind-shattering imprisonment. The desperation of women desiring freedom and equality are brought tellingly to life in The Season of Men (Moufida Tlatli, Tunisia, 2000), and in Football Undercover (Germany, 2008) where German and Iranian women’s teams play their first match in an enclosed stadium barred to men. In Enough! (Algeria, 2006) we watch two doughty women trying to trace a radical missing journalist.
The documentaries offer striking choices, often using the techniques of fiction to deal with non-fiction (an imaginative retort to features increasingly turning into docufictional narratives). These include films registering powerful protests in dealing the so-called “soft” subjects – like Mani Kaul’s surrealistic take on the extraordinary singer Siddhshwari Devi, and Sintra’s Diary (Brazil, 2008) where Paula Gaitan undertakes a quest to recover memories and images of her husband, the pioneering film maker Glauber Rocha, during years of exile. And how can we miss Titan from Habana to Guantanamera by Mirtha Ibarra, a fantastic homage to Tomas Gutierrez Alea, maker of gutwrenching films?