February 24, 2023
The Hri Institute of Southasian Research and Exchange (Hri) and Film Southasia (FSA), in collaboration with the Department of Art, Culture and Youth in the Government of Bihar, successfully organized a South Asia Women Film Festival in 4 colleges in Patna from February 2 to February 9. All 6 of the Film Southasia produced films were screened at the 4 locations while the Create, Collaborate, Catalyze: Reflections on Sexual Violence in Southasia also traveled with the films to the various colleges.
The festival was ceremonially inaugurated at the Magadh Mahila College by the Honorable Minister of the Department of Art, Culture and Youth in Bihar, Sri Jitendra Kumar Rai and Bandana Preyashi, IAS, secretary of the Department of Art, Culture, and Youth. Pushpa Rawat, one of our filmmaking fellows and director of Sita Ke Badalte Roop, along with her sister Sunita Rawat, were also in attendance as special guests for the inauguration. Create, Collaborate, Catalyze was also exhibited in the Magadh Mahila College, Chanakya National Law University, Chandragupta Institute of Management, and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) along with the screenings of the 6 FSA produced films.
The films were screened during the 7 day event were Sita Ke Badalte Roop (India), Before You Were My Mother (Nepal), The City that Spoke to Me (India), Flames of a Continuous Field of Time (Nepal), Face Cover (Sri Lanka), and Decoding Gender (Bangladesh). The Hri Institute team was also at hand to walkthrough the exhibition with students and discuss the various imagery and illustrations that were on display. Students expressed concern about prevalent themes of victimisation and victim blaming that currently accompany stories of sexual violence and were grateful that themes of showing strength and solidarity could be depicted instead of the usual difficult imagery of sexual violence. Some students also raised valid concerns about the distribution of our stock images (created by 12 Nepali artists on conceptualising non-problematic depictions of sexual violence, around themes of community and healing) and whether artists and filmmakers were being compensated fairly. Alok Adhikari, Assistant Director of FSA, also presented a small talk on visual storytelling in the Chandragupta Institute of Management where he talked about the value of the documentary form and how editing and other visual storytelling techniques could be employed in advertising, feature fiction films, as well as journalism.
A total of 300 students, faculty and community members attended the various screenings as well as the exhibition.