Some Women Directors

Papia Roy

Women directors of course are not limited to directing critically acclaimed family oriented or socio-economic issue based films or even films geared towards movie-goers. For decades they have been making films of different genres varying from comedy and emotion to animation and socio-economic themes.

KIFF 2015 featured some excellent films by women directors from different parts of the world. It was a new feeling and experience to see the films from Yemen, Spain, South Korea, France and Canada.

Colombian director Libya Stella Gomes stole the attention of film critics through her film Ella. A film professor of Universidal Nacional de Colombia Stella designed the film with an intrinsic family problems ridden with social problems. South Korea’s Shin Su-won has achieved international recognition with her short film Circle Line (2012) which won many prizes in global arena. Her film Madonna depicts the helplessness of a woman who passed her days with agonies and dejections but finally vowed to save her life and her baby.

Turkish director Enine Emel Balci was the youngest participant in the International Competition. Her film ‘Until I lose my breath’ mesmerised the audience with meaningful thoughts and emotions. The film centred with scrap, a young woman who was in search of dignity and womanhood as well as commitment towards society.

Of the films by women directors this reviewer was overwhelmed to watch the film ‘‘I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced’ directed by Yemen’s Khadija Al-Salami. An award winning documentary filmmaker from Yemen Khadija made 25 documentaries and 5 feature films. A recipient of ‘Legion d’Honneur’, she has written a book ‘The Tears of Sheba’ with Charles Hoots, about her experience and study of sociological aspects of poverty from Yemen.

The strength of Khadija’s film is not so much the theme of violence as the way it is portrayed. To illustrate the absurdity of early marriage the director of ten juxtaposes the delights of childhood against the brutality. Though Salami did not beg the top honours she received special mentions from 5-men jury.

Sharmila Tagore, Chairperson of International Competition, said about her film, ‘It is very brave to show the courage and make this film and highlight the suffering of women in the name of religion and tradition’.

During an intimate conversation Khadija confessed, ‘I lived the same experience as Nojoom at 11. I had to fight against family, against society. Now that I am adult, I wanted to make a movie that was wake-up call’. Describing the sociological aspects of Yemen’s society and environment Khadija opined, ‘‘The problem of Yemen’s prevalent society is not the characteristics and behaviour of the male counterpart, it is above all poverty, illiteracy and ignorance’’.

The film ‘Nojoom’ was shot entirely in Yemen despite the difficulties, the obstacles, the lack of cinema culture and of course without authorisation. ‘With this film, I want to force parents to reflect the actions. For that I would like to screen the film in every village across my country. I faced many problems, the film crews were driven out of some villages. Yet we are determined to reach the domestic sufferers of the families. The film ‘I am Nojoom, age 10 and divorced’, centres the story of a girl Nojoom who at the tender age of 10 years was forced to marry a man who is 30 years old to prevent a public scandal after a rape of her sister. She had to undergo horrible experience of intercourse by her husband every night. It is a legitimate, acceptable and satisfactory arrangement for all except to little Nojoom, whose life is no more pleasant than hell. At last the little Jemenite, girl asked a judge to grant her a divorce.

Khadija described her experience, ‘A lot of girls at my school got married, so since I was a little girl, I was mad at the injustice around me. Just seeking what my mother and grand mother had to face. I was so intolerant that I promised to live a different life. I thought only thing that would save me was education. To tell you the truth I did not got authorisation to film because everybody was busy with political problems so they did not pay attention to me’.

Khadija was sure of one thing that the situation for women depends on the women themselves. As long as they fight and make their voices heard, they can make a change. Without their struggle there won’t be a change. It is upto them.

Last year the festival committee presented some remarkable films of different countries and everyone hopes this time it won’t be any different.

Vol. 49, No.19, Nov 13 - 19, 2016