Tasveer and Chaya present Aaina – South Asian Women’s Film FestivalFeaturing the South Asian Vagina Monologues March 16-17-18.
In honor of International Women’s Month, Chaya and Tasveer have teamed up to bring you the Aaina Film Festival, which will be held in Seattle, Washington, March 16-18, 2007. Aaina focuses on the lives of South Asian women, both in the United States and abroad. This is Aaina’s 2nd year and highlights include the premiere of “Yoni ki Baat” – the South Asian vagina monologues, visiting filmmaker and activist Shonali Bose, and Nepalese dancer and filmmaker Sangita Shresthova. Join us for a weekend of honoring South Asian women during the International Women’s Month of March.
Opening Night: An Evening with Local Artists!
We will open Aaina celebrating the accomplishments and works of local South Asian women. Included on tonight’s program:
Yoni Ki Baat – Seattle Premiere!
Inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, “Yoni Ki Baat” (translated as “Talk of the Vagina”) is a transformative play encouraging South Asian women to speak out against violence and the stigma around our bodies and sexualities. South Asian Sisters, a collective of progressive South Asian women, have been organizing an annual “Yoni ki Baat” for the last three years in the Bay Area. They have kindly let us use their scripts for the Seattle premiere of Yoni ki Baat. Several local South Asian women will be performing these scripts. Some have even chosen to write their own.
In this program, two short documentaries from Nepal will be shown followed by a panel discussion about the current conditions of women and children in Nepal.
Lucian Muntean, 2005, Nepal, Nepali and Tamang, 27 minutes
This is the story of the nine-year-old Punam Matang: head of family, caregiver, and homemaker. She cooks, washes, feeds, and launders before setting off for school with her younger siblings. Their mother had died in childbirth and father works long hours to pay for his children’s school. And yet they are lucky. Some of Punam’s friends work in stone quarries and brick-making factories for survival. This sensitively made film is a powerful tale of despair, misplaced childhood, and hope.
Dil Bhusan Pathak, 2005, Nepal, Nepali and English, 23 minutes
This disturbing film investigates the bane of clandestine abortions in rural Nepal. Although abortion is legal in the country, ignorance, social conventions, scarcity, and lack of medical facilities impel many women to go to traditional midwives who use unsafe, unhygienic and often brutal methods to terminate unwanted pregnancies. These cause hemorrhage, infection, excessive bleeding, and frequently painful and horrific death. The film provides an arresting account of the vicious hold of poverty, patriarchal oppression, and gender discrimination.
The Beauty Academy of Kabul
Liz Mermin, 2004, USA, English/Persian, 74 minutes
This documentary follows a group of American women (some of whom had emigrated from Afghanistan in the early 1980s) travel to Kabul to open the nation’s first American-styled school of cosmetology after the collapse of the Taliban. Eager to offer Afghan women a different way of looking at themselves and others, the tutors occasionally find themselves at odds with their students, who still possess deeply ingrained notions of modesty and gender inequality and some of whom had maintained “underground” beauty salons under the Taliban rule.
Madhuri Mohindar & Vaishali Sinha; 2006;
USA; Bengali, English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu; 17 minutes
Set in a South Asian beauty parlor in New York, this documentary foregrounds a multiplicity of perspectives on immigration, marriage, love, career aspirations, gender-roles, identity, and dreams from women’s point of view. The shared space of the salon forges solidarity amongst women transcending all boundaries back home. The juxtaposing voices that cut across age, class, profession, faith, and nationality – present women’s predicament faced with the challenges of dealing with deracination, nostalgia, and integration in the ‘land of opportunity’.
Shonali Bose, 2005, India/USA, Bengali / Hindi / English / Punjabi, 102 minutes
Filmmaker, Shonali Bose will be present for after film discussion.
Amu is the story of Kajori Roy, a twenty-one-year-old Indian American woman who returns to India to visit her family and discover the place where she was born. The film takes a dark turn as Kaju stumbles against secrets and lies from her past. A horrifying genocide that took place twenty years ago turns out to hold the key to her mysterious origins. What starts out seeming like a standard “back to the roots” story, becomes a mystery of both personal and political implications.
Namit Kumar, 2000, India, Silent with music and English subtitles, 5 minutes
This brief film deals with the age old tradition of son-preference in India. It portrays the dilemma suffered by a young mother-to-be who is torn between the need to nurture the baby girl that she is carrying in her womb and the fear of not meeting societal expectations. It brings out the personal horror of such women in a country that shows callous disregard for female fetuses that are regularly aborted.
Bangla East Side
Fariba Alam and Sarita Khurana, USA, 2004, 45 minutes
This gripping narrative tracks four teenage Bangladeshi-American high school students juggling two cultures and building a life for themselves in post-9-11 America. Mahfuja, Maroofa, Jemi and Saleh are students of Marta Valle Model School in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They dance the latest Bollywood dance, discuss the Bill of Rights, and compare their immigrant identity in NYC with growing up as Muslims in Bangladesh. The film takes us into their personal lives and gives us a glimpse of their everyday struggles and accomplishments.
Tasveer Youth Initiative will lead post-film discussion. Youth are encouraged to come to this screening.
Sherna Dastur, India, Gujarati/Hindi and English subtitles, 2003, 52 minutes
This is the story of the only female truck driver in India who wants to travel and be free. Dastur’s film takes us on the road with Manjuben as she drives her truck, just like her male counterparts, from Gujarat to Delhi. The monotony of the road and the incessant roar of the diesel engine depict the harsh reality of the trucker’s life. We also see Manju-ben off the road, having her picture taken, hanging an oleograph of Shiv-Shakti on her wall, running her office, and gossiping with friends.
Sangita Shresthova, Czech Republic/Nepal, Czech, Nepali, Hindi, and English with English subtitles 43 minutes
Filmmaker, Sangita Shresthova will be present for the post-film discussion.
Sangita, a dancer of Czech-Nepali origin, journeys to Kathmandu to explore how practitioners in the Himalayan Kingdom negotiate Nepal’s dance traditions in a period of rapid cultural change. In her attempts to map the current situation of dance in Kathmandu valley, she encounters her own teachers as well as younger dancers currently finding their way. Dancing Kathmandu tells stories of nostalgia, passion, and survival through dance and dancers in the age of globalization.
Of Such Times
Vandana Kohli, India, English, 2006, 32 minutes
This film explores the definition of the ‘Modern Indian Woman’. It speaks, breezily, with women who have all graduated form one of the foremost colleges for women, though in different decades, from the 1950s till 2001. Converging here from different parts of the country, they reflect on life, work, marriage, collective aspirations, fun, and the times they graduated in. Interspersed within the narrative are visuals of popular culture, music trends, and significant socio-economic-political events relevant to the times of each woman’s life.
Mukhtar Mai – The Struggle for freedom
Beena Sarwar, Pakistan, Urdu with English subtitles, 2006, 10 minutes
Women’s legal and social status in Pakistan has had a turbulent history. From honor killings to acid throwing to gang rapes, they pay with their lives and bodies for alleged crimes violating their family or tribe’s so-called honor. This film documents the struggle for women’s rights waged by Mukhtar Mai who was gang-raped in 2002 by four men in the village of Meerwala on the orders of the Panchayat. This powerful tale exposes the ingrained cultural and social bias against women’s rights in Pakistan.