When Women Write traverses 900 years to explore what it means for women to write. It pairs a film about the radical 12th-century South Indian poet and mystic Akka Mahadevi with one about contemporary female poets who have faced censure and censorship but continue to write. One might say that the mere (f)act of writing is an act of rebellion for women.
Scribbles on Akka
Director: Madhusree Dutta
English (subtitled); 58 min; 2000; India
This short film enlivens the life and work of the 12th-century saint-poet, Akka Mahadevi, through a contemporary musical idiom. She is known for her radical poetry and her equally radical life—she is believed to have left her family and wandered naked, while composing poetry that challenged notions of caste and gender. Scribbles on Akka explores the meaning of this denial through the work of contemporary artists and writers and testimonies of ordinary folk who nurtured her image through centuries in their folklore and oral literature.
Director: Anjali Monteiro, K. P. Jayasankar
English (subtitled); 55 min; 2005; India
SheWrite weaves together the narratives and work of four Tamil women poets. Salma negotiates subversive expression within the tightly circumscribed space allotted to a woman in a small town. For Kuttirevathi, solitude is a crucial creative space from where her work resonates. Her anthology entitled Breasts (2003) became a controversial work that elicited hate mail, obscene calls and threats. Malathy Maitri's poems attempt to explore and express feminine power and spaces. Sukirtharani writes of desire and longing, celebrating the body in a way that affirms feminine empowerment. The film traverses these diverse modes of resistance, through images and sounds that evoke the universal experiences of pain, anger, desire and transcendence.
ABOUT GARGI SEN
Gargi Sen is a filmmaker, curator and documentary distributor. She graduated in Visual Communications from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad in 1986. In 2002, she earned a second master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Leicester. She has directed over 20 documentaries, won several awards for, and mentored documentary production around the world.
Sen has pioneered a model for documentary distribution in India that has emerged as an online, digital gateway to independent documentaries in South Asia. With the circulation of independent cinema at the heart of the enterprise Sen's work expanded to include dissemination, exhibition, production, training and curation. Magic Lantern Movies, LLP, houses Persistence Resistance as well as DocWok, a documentary mentoring program. In 2011, Sen was awarded the prestigious Clore Fellowship in Arts Leadership, UK. She would complete a five-month secondment with the Tate galleries, UK. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK, and advisor on several cinema and education related initiatives in India and the world. In 2016–17, Sen will be a Nehru-Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of California, Davis.