Stories of women breaking the glass ceiling are common these days, but there is one area that is still a male-dominated bastion – film industry. As a self-taught filmmaker, city-girl Vaishnavi Sundar, who forayed into filmmaking after a stint in theatre, believes that the onus is on women, who have to do something about the disparity. And that’s why, Vaishnavi began Woman Making Films (WMF), a group that connects all women filmmakers across the world, irrespective of age group and experience.
“With just five per cent of women representation in the field, the scene is quite appalling. That’s why I thought I should bring together a group of women filmmakers from across the globe,” she says. The forum has gained momentum in just a month of its launch, and a US-based forum called ‘Directed by Women’ gave WMF the much-needed impetus by providing it with required contacts.
WMF, which has reached the 50 member-mark, has filmmakers from major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai, apart from countries like Bangladesh, Hong Kong, USA, Belgium and Germany. As a part of its activities, the group has begun its first event ‘The First Festival’, which is a multi-city screening of short films. After its debut success at Thiruvananthapuram last week, the screening will now take place in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata this week. Sundar is also planning to host one in Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Haryana.
She adds, “We’re screening 15 films made by the member filmmakers from seven countries. We have attempted to present work from different genres, which also includes animation and fiction. All entries could not make it to this screening, but they will be showcased during other upcoming events.”
Sundar’s endeavour is also inspired by her personal experience as a filmmaker more than a year ago. “I had a story that was close to my heart and had discussed it with a filmmaker friend, who encouraged me to write the screenplay and make it,” explains the 28-year-old.
Soon, she found herself making Pava Doll in Malayalam, a 10-minute short film based on the short story she wrote. She made her second short film, The Catalyst, in Kannada “just to get out of my comfort zone”. The Catalyst, based on a short story set in pre-independence India, was given a contemporary setting. It narrated the moral dilemma of a family struggling to meet ends when it chances upon a heap of money.
Winding up the shoot for her latest short film on fossils in Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu, Sundar is already teeming with ideas for WMF. What’s keeping women away from films?
“As women, we’re conditioned to behave in a particular way. We’re told that since we are women or girls, we cannot and/or should not do certain things. And that’s why I want to go to schools and speak to girl students about filmmaking. When we were in school, I don’t think anyone spoke to us about the medium,” Vaishnavi Sundar avers. If you are a woman and filmmaking is your passion, log on to www.wmfindia.com.