When the fourth segment of the Rising Garden Film Festival, hosted by Sangat feminist network and the Kriti Film Club, as part of the One Billion Rising South Asia’s 2021 campaign, comes to an end on Monday, the filmmakers, organisers and viewers together say that the film fiesta became a global phenomenon, amidst pandemic.

Gamze Ineceli, an active viewer of the festival and researcher on food culture from Istanbul feels it as a privilege to observe and witness the raw truth, honesty and yet the care, dignity and gentleness of how these stories are delivered in the films that were screened. “I find myself at a loss for words to describe the gratitude I feel to have had the chance to see them,” she says.

Rising Gardens is the theme of 2021’s OBR, an annual campaign and world’s largest mass mobilisation tackling systemic issues impacting the lives of women and girls. In the last segment, 10 films were showcased under the theme Moving Mountains women and solidarities, explore women’s ties to nature, agriculture and environmental activism.  Kamla Bhasin, Coordinator, OBR South Asia, says “There is a deep connection between the exploitation of nature and the oppression of women. Violence against nature and women have been largely acceptable due to the unjust systems prevailing in our society. The OBR campaign aims to work towards healing the environment and our communities by growing gardens, directly challenging capitalist patriarchy which has increasingly pushed us away from mother nature.”

Filmmaker Gulnar Tabassum from Pakistan who made Two Steps Forward in 2009, is elated about reaching the audience across the world after a decade.  The film which is part of the Aril fest, talks about a farmer movement in Punjab, Pakistan, that emerged during the military regime of General Musharraf in 2000-2005. “The movement had made a huge impact on the feministic sensibilities of women in Pakistan. I am glad that it is reaching a wider audience amidst pandemic. I have tried to feature the frontline warrior role of women farmers in the Movement, especially when the tyrant regime had illegally detained men. The women came forward to take on the Army and somehow succeeded to push them back,” she says.

The festival which began in January had films screened under different themes: women and nature under Cosmic Connections, women and agriculture under Fields of Sorrow, Fields of Hope and women, food and livelihood under Community and Sustenance. 47 films from 10 countries were viewed by students to experts.

Anjana Mangalgiri, educationist from Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi observes that the films in the Rising Garden festivals were a huge opening up of what have been and continues to be hidden from history on the sustenance and the struggles of women in livelihood. The movies also reveal the organic nature of women and their survival skills and the connection with nature. The grit and courage of women are well explored in the films and the activism that prevails in women’s own little microcosm,” she adds.

The films are available online till 11 PM, April 19 on the festival website http://www.doculive.in/p/moving-mountains-women-and-solidarities.html

Anjana George is a former entertainment journalist at Times of India, Kochi.


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