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Hidden behind the Spotlight: Indian Cinema’s Gender ​​Problem

“I was very shocked that only four independent films made it for this category,” says director Alankrita Shrivastava

Last year’s winner is part of the jury this time for the Oxfam MAMI Gender Equality Award

Mumbai: After winning the inaugural edition of the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award, director Alankrita Srivastava will be judging the film
s shortlisted for this year’s award. Alankrita whose Lipstick Under My Burkha won the award last year is keen that more and more women turn to direction.

“I was very disappointed, and shocked, that only four independent films qualified for this category. It is indeed surprising that so few films made the cut. This makes the Oxfam award even more important. It made me realize that not enough films even in the independent sphere are pushing the envelope when it comes to interesting portrayals of female characters, or breaking the heteronormative stereotypes. This award is a big step in recognizing the role that cinema plays in creating dialogue and conversation on the changing gender dynamics in society,” said director Alankrita Shrivastava.

With an aim to encourage cinema that creates space for issues like gender equality, Oxfam India collaborated with MAMI Film Festival and instituted the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award. This award category focuses on films that challenge gender-based social norms which lead to gender inequality, and hence to the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. Through this award, Oxfam and the Mumbai Film Festival encourages and recognizes professional filmmakers who are making films which inspire people to work towards a future where women are empowered.

“Films that depict female characters as second-class citizens, and amplify masculinity in stereotypical macho ways, make girls more accepting of violence in their lives and boys more likely to inflict it. Our society is deeply influenced by what Bollywood portrays. But, the film industry has shied away from putting its weight behind gender issues. It has failed to acknowledge that gender biases exist within the sector. The low representation of women writers, directors & producers in Indian cinema is correlational to portrayal of women in films” said Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal.

Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award 2017 will kick off on MAMI’s Opening Night with the announcement of the shortlisted films for this year October 12th, 2017. This will be followed by ‘Women In Films’ brunch organised by Oxfam India to be held on October 16th as a forum for women from all spheres of filmmaking to meet violence survivors and discuss about the influence of cinema on gender related issues. The winner of the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award for this year will be announced on October 18th– the closing night of the festival. The jury for the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award 2017 are Alankrita Shrivastava, Vasan Bala and Gayatri Sivasubramaniam.