SAMABHAV – The Travelling Film Festival

Anumeha Verma
Published: February 2018

Films and much more discussed at the two-day fest

A two-day travelling film festival ‘Samabhav’ was organized by Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA Mumbai) in association with Jain University and Namma Pride on November 10 – 11, 2017 at the Knowledge Campus. Feature films, short and documentary films on gender, masculinity and relationships were screened during the festival.

The fest, which is a first of its kind in India, began on October 10 and 11 in Coimbatore. Cities that are a part of the itinerary are Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Thrissur and 4 districts of Maharashtra – Dhule, Jalgaon, Sangli and Kolhapur, where the organization is present. The festival is supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and other supporting partners -DAWN Worldwide, Maharashtra Foundation based in the U.S, Sandvik and Whistling Woods International, Mumbai.

Samabhav stands for equanimity on gender, masculinity, sexuality and relationships and this fest provided a platform for all those interested in gaining an insight into and have meaningful conversations and discussions on the various forms of gender discrimination on women and its impact in the light of patriarchal forces, patriarchy and violence on boys and men and how society looks at other genders.

Dr. Mythili Rao, Dean – Languages, Humanities & Social Sciences and Co-ordinator – Research Programmes at Jain University welcomed the gathering. Films from Canada, the US, Yemen, India and Afghanistan were showcased and these were followed by panel discussions by experts that included Ms. Ammu Joseph, an independent journalist and author based in Bengaluru; Ms. Sharmini Poulin, Mission Administrative and Consular Officer, Consulate General of Canada, Bengaluru; Dr. Shekar Seshadri, Professor and Head, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (NIMHANS), Bengaluru; RJ Priyanka Divaakar, Program Executive and Community Reporter at Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, Bengaluru; RJ Shilok Mukkati, Community Radio Journalist at Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, Bengaluru and Mr. Vinay Chandran, gay rights and human rights activist, a counselor, and a writer based in Bengaluru.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Harish Sadani, the Founder of MAVA and Director of the festival said, “All of us have heard of the term ‘collective action’. So, it is heartening to see here the power of today’s collective action where different forces have come together – a university that teaches and inculcates the spirit of enquiry among youngsters, then there is an organization – Men Against Violence and Abuse which is working with boys and men when gender is always by and large equated to women in our country and then there is Namma Pride which brings together LGBTQI organizations, allied groups, activists and individuals in Bengaluru and across Karnataka.” He further added that it is important to learn about and understand the needs of a particular gender, address our biases, reflect on them and change our outlook. “There are 3 recognized genders in India – men, women and transgenders but experts abroad say that there are more than 63-64 types of genders!!! This is a festival on gender diversity and it is important that we see the whole spectrum. If gender is a social construct then we all have a role to play. It is important to have a society that is just,” said Mr. Sadani.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Joseph said patriarchy which is known to be discriminatory and oppressive towards girls and women is not good for boys and men either, adding that unless we address the question of patriarchal construction of manhood, manliness and masculinity, the increasing number of reported cases of rape and other forms of sexual harassment, abuse and assault is unlikely to be effective. “We must also acknowledge, accept and promote recognition of those who do not fit into the binaries of male, female, heterosexual and homosexual. I think it’s important to appreciate the contribution of the LGBTQI community to exposing and dismantling traditional notions of gender identity, equality, sexuality and much else,”she said. Films that were screened and discussed over the two days were categorized in to Violence against Women which had movies like Thanks, Broken Image, Boys cannot be boys, Mina Walking and I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced; Sexuality and Women’s Safety that covered films like A Pinch of Skin, Khule Aasman Ke Niche, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Driving with Selvi and Khel Badal, a narrative of 4-5 short video clips; Masculinity which had films like Mardistan/Macholand, The Mask you live in, Ozhivu Divasathe Kali, Majma and Yuva Maitri; and LGBT and related matters that covered movies like Breaking Free, Sundar, Walking the Walk and Daaravtha/The Threshold.

 - Anumeha Verma is at present working with Jain University and believes that strategic communication plays a major role in solving development issues.