Northwest Film Forum, Seattle – Monday, October 19th – 9:00 PM
Mardistan (Macholand), Harjant Gill, 2014, Punjabi, 28min
Logline: Mardistan (Macholand) is an exploration of Indian manhood articulated through the voices of four men from different generations and backgrounds. It is a powerful, insightful, and teachable film, which overturns simplistic notions of gender and presents Indian masculinities in all their complexities as they emerge in a context of a powerful and shifting debate in India on sexual violence, sexual rights and citizenship.
Synopsis: Mardistan (Macholand) is an exploration of Indian manhood articulated through the voices of four men from different generations and backgrounds. A middle-aged writer trying to make sense of the physical and sexual abuse he witnessed studying in an elite military academy, a Sikh father of twin daughters resisting the pressure to produce a son, a young 20-year-old college student looking for a girlfriend with whom he can lose his virginity, and a working-class gay activist coming out to his wife after twenty years of marriage. Together, their stories make up different dimensions of what it means to be a man in India today. Mardistan (Macholand) starts a conversation on critical issues including patriarchy, son preference, sexual violence and homophobia in a nation increasingly defined by social inequalities.
Harjant Gill is an assistant professor of anthropology at Towson University, Maryland. He received his PhD from American University. His research examines the intersections of masculinity, modernity and migration in India. Gill is also an award-winning filmmaker and has made several films that have screened at film festivals and academic conferences worldwide. His films include Milind Soman Made Me Gay which explores the notion of home and belonging among gay South Asians in diaspora, and Roots of Love which looks at the changing significance of hair and turban among Sikhs in India. His upcoming film, Mardistan (Macholand) is an exploration of Indian manhood focusing on issues of sexual violence, son preference and homophobia. His films have been screened at film festivals and television worldwide including on BBC, Doordarshan (Indian National TV) and PBS. Gill was born in India, grew up in California, and now lives in Washington DC.
Director’s Statement: Even though the recent high profile incidents of gang rapes and sexual violence against women across India served as the initial impetus behind making Mardistan (Macholand), my desire to explore Indian masculinity is an outcome of a much longer ongoing interest and inquiry into the lives of Indian men who are increasingly portrayed as one-dimensional in national and international news media. While this film addresses the urgent and widespread issues of patriarchy, son-preference, sexual violence, and homophobia that are prevalent in Indian society, it also shows the responsibilities and challenges confronting Indian men today. Instead of showcasing the stereotypes of Indian manhood, the film features experiences of four men who are actively making different choices in their lives and serve as a hope for a more equitable future for the nation.
THE ROYAL WOMEN ASSOCIATION, Robinder Uppal, 2015 Punjabi/English, 20min
Logline: THE ROYAL WOMEN ASSOCIATION tells the story of a group of South Asian women in Calgary who have banded together to overcome the isolation and loneliness so common among older members of their community.
Synopsis: THE ROYAL WOMEN ASSOCIATION tells the story of a group of South Asian women in Calgary who have banded together to overcome the isolation and loneliness so common among older members of their community. The women break out of their shells and overcome their demons by sharing songs, poetry, food, and laughter at the group’s monthly meetings. As they plan an event that calls attention to domestic violence in the community, one member, Sarbjit, tries to come to terms with the trauma of her own past.
Robinder Uppal, a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and editor, Uppal holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University and has made films in India, Central America, and Canada. Born and raised in Calgary to parents from Punjab, India, his current work in documentary and interactive storytelling builds on a lifelong interest in issues of diversity and multiculturalism.
SILENT VOICES, Pritha Chakraborty, 2014, bengali, 26min
Logline: Three sisters with major musical aspirations give up their dreams, bowing instead to the traditional demands of starting a family. They marry young, face motherhood early and become domestically shackled—prompting an essential dialogue between the generations about female emancipation and education in India.
Synopsis: Playful teenage girls are growing up with the dream of successful extension of a suburban music band. Through the assent of growing up, they travel through the real world and get confined to usual challenges. It is a personal story where the author, in introspection, gauges on her immediate world of compulsions – muted freedom, repressive family pressure and early motherhood. The director evokes the plaguing impasse and the process of ensuring reconciliation women go through in the realm of seamless submission.
Pritha Chakraborty is a Filmmaker / Editor based in India. Her debut Documentary film, ‘Silent Voices’ was premiered in Hotdocs, 2015.