November 20, 2022
From November 8 to 13, the Hri Institute of Southasian Research and Exchange (Hri) along with Film Southasia (FSA), traveled to Chennai for a 6-day long showcase of films and exhibitions as part of our project on Changing the Narrative on Sexual Abuse in Southasia.
This 2-year long project has culminated in the production of 6 films and 5 research papers that discuss and challenge prevalent motifs of sexual abuse and its depiction in media in Southasia. As we wrap up the last leg of the project, we (alongside FSA), will be travelling to various regions of Southasia for the next year and screening our films as well as showcasing our exhibition with partnerships with local organisations, colleges and academic institutions, and art centers.
The exhibition was formally opened in the Roja Muthiah Research Library with a panel discussion on the topic “Addressing sexual violence: Breaking the Stereotypes.” The panel consisted of A.S Panneerselvan, fellow at the Roja Muthiah Research Library, Arulmozhi, lawyer and campaigner for self-respect, Vaishna Roy, editor at Frontlines and was moderated by Laxmi Murthy, director of Hri Institute of Southasian Research and Exchange. The exhibition featured works from the 6 filmmaking fellows as well as 5 research fellows on themes of intergenerational trauma, healing, community, online justice seeking, political newspapers cartoons as well as violence dalit and trans bodies.
The exhibition housed works of Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Nepali, and Indian researchers and filmmakers. Topics ranging from face covering in Sri Lanka post the Easter bombings and finding community within the deaf and mute community in Delhi, to the abuse directed towards dalit bodies in Nepal were depicted and discussed through the films that we produced. Through the films, the exhibition, as well as the research, our hope is to continue discourse around the how, where and what interventions might be necessary in our imagery and depiction of sexual violence in Southasia. The exhibition and film screenings were attended by 150 students and visitors.
The 6 films produced by FSA were also screened at the Asian College of Journalism along with 14 films as part of our Travelling Film Southasia Package. All 14 films were selected by FSA as part of a travelling package that is screened globally in international academic institutions and select organisations. Kanak Mani Dixit, chair of the Southasia Trust (parent organisation to Hri Institute and Film Southasia), was the keynote speaker to the students during the screening of Longing, the Ram Bahadur Trophy winner at FSA 2022. Addressing the students at the screening, Kanak Mani Dixit emphasized the importance of forming a pan-Southasian identity especially as politics in Southasia continues to move further towards hardened nationalism and isolationist policies.