3rd Aaina: A South Asian Women in Focus Festival

March 28th-30th, 2008


Aaina, which in Urdu means mirror, focuses on and celebrates the artistic work around South Asian women. Although, the main medium is film, it also includes performance art, visual art, and speakers aimed at the empowerment of South Asian women. We are very happy to bring you another great festival this year.

Suggested donations: $5 for day-time shows, $7 for evening shows, Yoni Ki Baat: $10.
All programs will be at Central Cinema. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98122

Introducing: Chaya’s community speaks, a Critical Panel Discussion

Sponsored by:

Chaya Seattle
Humanities Washington
KBCS 91.3 FM
Neighborhood and Community Arts Program
Seattle People’s Fund
Seattle University’s Women Studies Center


Friday March 28th, 2008, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Gupshup: Come join us for Gupshup over free wine, music, laughter, and conversation.

Film: Hearts Suspended

Friday March 28th, 2008, 7:00 PM – 7:30 PM
cost: $7 suggested donation

Meghna Damani, US/India, 27 minutes, English/Hindi, DVD

‘Hearts Suspended’ is a short autobiographical documentary that reveals how highly educated South Asian immigrant women struggle to survive in the United States on their H4 or dependent spouse visas, which deny them work authorization. Once independent, now completely dependent, they face loneliness, depression, loss of self-identity, strained marital relations and — in extreme cases — exploitation and abuse.

About the Director:
Meghna Damani grew up in Mumbai, India, where she did her master’s in marketing. She worked at J Walter Thompson in Mumbai for two-and-a-half years in the Account Management Department on various Unilever accounts. Also a journalist and model, she came to the United States in 2002. Unauthorized to work on her ‘dependent spouse’ visa, her struggles inspired her first film Hearts Suspended.

Artist Focus

Friday March 28th, 2008, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
South Asian women film artists focus.

Aaliyah Gupta: Pod/Sac Series
Aaliyah Gupta is an artist and is deeply committed to social change work. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has lived, worked and exhibited in India, Denmark and the USA. Her works range from painted landscapes that serve as metaphors for political upheaval to large abstract charcoal drawings that are deeply personal and can be viewed at www.aaliyahgupta.net.

Afrose Ahmed: Internally Displaced Poetry
Afrose Ahmed is Community Advocate at Chaya. She is a growing poet, hopes to go to law school someday, and likes to climb in her spare time, to gain better perspective.

Archana Kumar: Unveiling
Archana Kumar is a professional Indian classical and contemporary artist. She is trained in Bharatanatyam, Kathak & modern dance and currently teaches Kathak around Seattle. Her works are wide-spread & experimental & have been showcased nationally and internationally. For more information about Archana’s work, please visit www.archanakathak.com.

Garima Bansal & Lavanya Tekumalla: Ayka Dajiba
Performed by Pratidhwani – a non profit based in the Seattle area, with the mission of promoting and cultivating performing arts of the Indian subcontinent. Garima Bansal and Lavanya Tekumalla will represent Pratidhwani in this performance. Garima is an aspiring business woman and a computer engineer. She is passionate about arts in any form and often performs for charity. She loves nature and in her free time she captures its beauty with her camera. Lavanya is a Software Developer with Amazon.com. She has a passion for various dance forms. She believes dance is not just a recreation but a means of self expression and looks at Pratidhwani as a forum to showcase and hone her skills as a dancer.

Yoni Ki Baat

Friday March 28th, 2008, 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM
cost: $10 suggested donation

Yoni Ki Baat, translated as “Talk of the Vagina”, is inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. This transformative play encourages South Asian women to speak out against the violence and stigma associated with our bodies. Yoni Ki Baat was originally started by South Asian Sisters, a progressive collective of South Asian women, who have been organizing an annual Yoni Ki Baat for the last three years in the San Francisco area and have kindly let us use their scripts. We are proud to also have several performers write their own scripts or perform ones that have been submitted from our local community. Please click on the image to see the detailed schedule.

Director : Sujot Kaur
Participants: Shanti Raghu
Sabina Ansari
Marsha Mavunkel
Arshiya Quadri
Marsha Mavunkel
Shanana Dattagupta

Community Speaks
Saturday March 29th, 2008, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Listen. Experience. Witness.
Community Speaks is a creative community forum where people will share a multitude of expressions that speak out to name violence in its various forms. Come to witness stories of survival, violence, courage, pain, hope, and more. Community Speaks is a Chaya event within the Aaina Festival. This particular event is free of cost. Please arrive by 2 pm; late guests will not be admitted.
Chaya is a community based non-profit organization that serves South Asian women in times of crisis and raises awareness on domestic violence issues.

Girl Stars | Enemies of Happiness
Saturday March 29th, 2008, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM; $5

India, 7:30 minutes each, Hindi/English (subtitles)

1. Anita the Beekeeper (Director: Vikash Nowlakha)
2. Kiran the Junkyard Dealer (Director: Vikash Nowlakha)
3. Suryamani the Environment Activist (Umang Bhattacharya)
4. Anuradha the Medical Student (Pallavi Arora)
5. Madhuri the Village Leader (Ayesha Sood)

‘Girl Stars’ are extraordinary tales of ordinary girls who have changed their lives by going to school. It is a multi-media project that creates ‘icons’ out of everyday women and girls who have changed their lives through education. Girl Stars was created by ‘Going to School: India’ and was supported by UNICEF India. The NGO ‘Going to School’ creates media for children with the view to making learning and education relevant to their lives and at the same time fun. For more information, please visit www.goingtoschool.com/girlstars.html

Enemies of Happiness

Eva Mulvad & Anja Al Erhayem, Afghanistan/Denmark, 2006, 59 minutes, Farsi/Pashtu (subtitled), DVD

‘Enemies of Happiness’ is about personal courage – courage to change the world and the courage to stand in the forefront of this battle. The winner of the international premiere award it is a powerful, remarkable and inspiring film. From its stunning opening, emerges a gripping story of opposition and women’s rights in today’s Afghanistan as the country tries to reconstruct life after the Taliban. At its heart, it’s a portrait of Malalai Joya on the campaign trail in the first democratic elections in Afghanistan in 30 years. The film-makers follow this brave, fearless and committed female politician who, despite repeated assassination attempts, is prepared to take on and front-up to former warlords in the Loya Jirga about the way they have been tearing her country apart.

Winner of World Cinema Jury Prize (Documentary) at the Sundance Film Festival.

About the Directors:
Eva Mulvad: Filmmaker and author Eva Mulvad has made a number of documentaries, including The Camp and The Last Dance, Mulvad is the recipient of the WIFT’s Golden Mermaid Award and Nordvision’s Steen Baadsgaards Pris, awarded to an outstanding young documentary filmmaker.

Anja Al Erhayem: Anja Al Erhayem is co-director of Back to Baghdad, a film about daily life under Saddam Hussein, and the sequel Dangerous Freedom, about life just after Hussein. In 2006, Al Erhayam directed and hosted six documentary and travel shows in the Middle East. She is the author of The Sun Cries Over Baghdad.

Sponsored by: CRY Seattle

Daughters of Wisdom | Bare
Saturday March 29th, 2008, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

cost: $7 suggested donation
Bari Pearlman, Tibet/China/USA, 2007, 68 minutes, Tibetan (subtitled)

‘Daughters of Wisdom’ is an intimate portrait of Tibetan nuns, who are receiving unprecedented educational and religious training, and preserving their rich cultural heritage even as they slowly reshape it. Some shy, some outspoken, all committed to the often difficult life they have chosen, the nuns graciously allowed our camera a never-before-seen glimpse into their vibrant spiritual community and insight into their extraordinary lives.

“Winner of the Audience Award and Best Editing Award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival”

About the Director: Bari Pearlman is a Manhattan-based independent producer, director, and writer, specializing in quality documentaries for theatrical and television markets.

Santana Issar, India, 2007, 11 minutes, English/Hindi

In the piecing together of home videos shot by her parents nearly 2 decades earlier, and through a string of conversations with her father, mother, and sister, a daughter looks to understand the impact of her father’s alcoholism on each of their lives: the sister’s refusal to include him in her life; the mother’s belief that her daughters should reach out to their father despite her own refusal to see him; the father’s moment of honest introspection.

Winner of Special Mention at the Hamburg Short Film Festival, 2007

About the Director:
Santana Issar graduated in Economics from Delhi University in 2005. Thereafter, she interned with a news channel before coming upon work as an assistant director on a corporate film. The chance to direct Bare – her first film – came along a year later. Since Bare’s completion she has worked with a media action group, and is currently completing a research fellowship on animal activism.

Sponsored by: Bo M Karlsson Foundation

Yoni Ki Baat
Saturday March 29th, 2008, 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Description is above.

Sponsored by: Diya Skincare Spa

My Daughter the Terrorist | 6 Yards to Democracy
Sunday March 30th, 2008, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

cost: $5 suggested donation
Beate Arnestad, Sri Lanka / Norway, 2007, 52 minutes, Tamil/English, DVD

What makes anyone want to blow themselves up for a cause? In this intimate and personal portrait we join two young female elite soldiers trained for the ultimate mission. We share their childhood experiences, their dreams and their families’ loss. Left behind are the mothers. For further details, please visit www.snitt.no/mdtt

Winner of the Best International Documentary Feature, IFF, St. Petersburg.

About the Director:
Beate Arnestad worked for many years and in many different positions at Norwegian broadcaster NRK, mainly in the divisions of culture and entertainment. Her first documentary was “Where the waves sing” (2002), tracing the life of a former painter and governor in the forgotten Danish-Norwegian colony Tranquebar in India. While living in Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2006, she started exploring the concept of women in war, which turned into the film “My daughter the terrorist.”

6 Yards to Democracy
Nishtha Jain and Smriti Nevatia, India, 2006, 55 minutes, Hindi (subtitled), DVD

‘6 Yards to Democracy’ revisits a gruesome incident that took place during an election rally in north India. Thousands of women from poor localities of Lucknow city, lured by the promise of free saris, had been waiting for hours in the harsh sun for the cheap six-yard cloths. A stampede occurred: 22 died and hundreds were injured. This seemingly stray happening uncovers the sordid side of Indian democracy, and connects in significant ways with the daily humiliations forced upon these women and their families. As boom town dynamics keep pushing them further into the margins, we observe the women’s struggles to keep their homes, hopes and dignity intact while petitioning an apathetic state for their dues. For more information, please visit http://www.raintreefilms.net/6yards.html

Winner of Best Documentary at the Birds Eye View Film Festival, London, 2007.

About the Directors:
Nishtha Jain is a graduate from Jamia Mass Communication Centre in New Delhi. She started her career as an editor and correspondent for video news magazines before joining the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), specializing in film direction. She works as an independent filmmaker in Bombay.

Smriti Nevatia has worked as a film and theater critic, and been associated with many independent documentaries as well as TV shows. She has participated in conferences on media and gender issues, and cultural studies, and is co-editor of Sites and Practices: An Exercise in Cultural Pedagogy (Majlis 2006).

Critical Panel Discussion
Sunday March 30th, 2008, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

South Asian Women: Fundamentalism, Religion, Violence, and Governance

This panel looks into the ways that issues of religion, fundamentalism, violence, and governance intersect with each other and simultaneously impact the lives of South Asian women located in a multiplicity of situations. The panel is composed of the following speakers:

1. Prof. Elora Chowdhury (University of Massachusetts) will be exploring the question of violence and women in Bangladesh and in particular will focus on the growing epidemic of acid attack against women in the country. By focusing on the story of Bina Akhter, a survivor/activist of acid violence, she will explore how feminists in Bangladesh navigate Orientalist, modernist, and transnational discourses of women’s empowerment in developing strategies and initiatives in response to gendered violence.

2. Prof. Shahnaz Khan (Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario) will be speaking on notions of rescuing Muslim woman as a form of colonial feminism through which accounts of their de-contextualized lives by some western feminists help produce a discourse that suggests timeless tradition, Islam and their misogynist men as the cause of their oppression. She maintains that in identifying local patriarchies as the sole cause of women’s oppression support for military missions masked as rescue missions are generated. Using examples from Afghanistan and Pakistan, she argues for an analysis which examines the complexities of local arrangements and their interaction with transnational forces so that we may to better recognize the conditions under which women live as well as all the players who helped bring them about.

3. Prof. Tayyab Mahmud (Seattle University) will address the relationship between modes of governance and the rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan. Bringing four distinct phases between 1950-2000 into focus, he would argue that the “rise” of religious fundamentalism was orchestrated by a state whose mode of governance rests upon lack of representation and denial of federalism. Regional and global geo-politics furnished the broader context within which this process unfolded. His talk will also incorporate the symbolic and substantive role of women leaders in Pakistani politics. In particular he will talk in a comparative mode about Fatima Jinnah (Jinnah’s sister who challenged Ayub Khan in the 1965 elections) and Benazir Bhutto.

4. Brahmy Poologasingham (Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney, and Human Rights Commissioner, Seattle) will give an overview of the human rights violations in Sri Lanka as they relate to the terrorist activities and the government’s part in the ethnic Tamil/Singhala conflict. Specifically as it pertains to women, she will be talking about the cycle of violence the conflict has created as well as the unique position women have within the terrorist organization (LTTE) and their contribution to the peace keeping process.

5. Prof. Meenakshi Rishi (Seattle University) will focus on issues of Grassroots governance in India, Iconic political persona, Women in Business, and Fundamentalism in India.

Sponsored by: South Asia Center, University of Washington

Closing Night Program: Nina’s Heavenly Delights
Sunday March 30th, 2008, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Pratibha Parmar, UK/India, 95 minutes, English/Hindi, DVD

It is a love story where Scottish humor meets Bollywood spectacle! It follows the mixed fortunes of a Glaswegian family, THE SHAHS and their award winning Indian restaurant, THE NEW TAJ.

The story is told through the eyes of NINA SHAH, a young Scottish Asian woman engaged in her own highly personal identity crisis. NINA had left home under a cloud after a row with her father but when he dies suddenly, Nina is forced to return. Her return reunites her with her childhood friend Bobbi, a wannabe Bollywood drag queen and brings her face to face with Lisa, a charismatic young woman who now owns half the restaurant.

Then Nina discovers her father’s secret – The New Taj has been selected for The Best of the West Curry Competition. In the turbulent days that follow, Nina (helped by Lisa) embarks on a personal mission to win the trophy for the third time. But Nina’s feelings are thrown into turmoil when she realises that she is falling in love.

Can her feelings ever be reciprocated? And, if they are, what will this mean for Nina and her family.


Sponsored by: Trikone – NW