By Ajay Ghosh
New York: The third I-View film festival 2010, hosted by Engendered, opened on September 18 in New York to packed audiences and a roster of celebrity speakers and guests at the Asia Society, encapsulating a stimulating discussion of gender and queer themes among the panelists and attendees.
Enumerating his fascination for gender-based themes in his films, award-winning director Vishal Bhardwaj, a panelist at the opening-day of the festival, paid glowing tributes to women power, so did many of the other speakers.
Other than ex-ploring human rights, women’s queer and transgender themes, the festival saw a never-before attendance together in New York of filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj, Mira Nair, Mehreen Jabbar, Onir, Vinay Shukla, Abhishek Chau-bey, Surbhi Dewan, Sudipto Chattopadhyay; leading movie stars Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli, Rahul Bose, Raima Sen, Monica Dogra, Aasif Mandvi, Manu Narain, Shenaz Treasurywala, Melanie Kanno-kada and Pakistan’s eminent designer Nomi Ansari.
The opening-day documentary was Sundance Festival favorite Bhutto, accompanied by a special preview of critically acclaimed director Cary McClleland’s Women of Without Shepherds. The films provoked a very timely conversation around questions relating to the realities of contemporary Pakistan.
Leading directors and producers from South Asia, who spoke in support of highlighting issues relating to social change, included Pakistan’s legendary statesman Javed Jabbar, award-winning directors from India; Vinay Shukla, Abhishek Chaubey, Vishal Bhardwaj, Onir, and Bollywood’s emerging stars such as director Sudipto Chattopadhyay, lead cast member from Pankh, Maradona Rebello and Dhobighat’s Monica Dogra, whose, touching narration about young women dancing to shorts and tank tops to her band Shaii’r +Func, as evidence of changing gender relations in India, and Mira Nair calling upon film-makers to use their craft as spears for social change, set a very high note for the inaugural day.
The opening-day also saw a star-studded fashion show by Pakistan’s leading designer Nomi Ansari, with showstoppers Raima Sen and Monica Dogra.
The festival’s highlights of the first two days, included “Shorts & Docs at Big Cinemas,” conversations with Vishal Bhardwaj, titled “Bol: The Language of Desire in the Poetry, Music, and Dance of South Asian Cinema,” and the New York premiere of veteran film-maker Saeed Mirza’s Ek To Chance at Tribeca Cinemas, accompanied by cast member Purab Kohli, and Onir’s I Am. The third I-View Film Festival 2010 was organized by Engendered, the transnational arts and human rights organization based in New York City.