Women in Cinema Collective begins new chapter
The non-profit organisation was formed in May 2017
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the Women in Cinema Collective, an event titled 'Punarvaayana' was conducted at Kochi on Sunday. The non-profit organisation was formed in May last year by a group of female actors, technicians, and other members in the Malayalam film industry to handle the various issues faced by female members of the film fraternity. The main impetus for WCC's formation came from the sexual assault of a Malayalam actor last year. Since then, the organisation has been working hard to improve the situation of female artistes in the industry.
Actor Revathy introduced the new phase of WCC and thanked everyone in the media for supporting this initiative. She emphasised the importance of lending ears to the problems of not just the female members of the film fraternity, but also those of the opposite gender. "Punarvaayana is the first step in our attempt to revamp the image of WCC. We want more people to come forward and be a part of this. We must encourage more women to speak up about their problems and to also accept the fact that there are problems. We should support girls who are willing to speak. We must listen to them and come up with solutions. But all this cannot be accomplished alone. We should work hard on providing a safe and healthy environment for our children -- both boys and girls."
The actor went on to stress the importance of gender parity and making women feel comfortable in the workplace. "Gender representation in the arts is something we all need to sit and discuss. When new female artistes enter the industry, they have a fear of how things are going to be, especially in matters of pay. We aim to build a strong network of female professionals. WCC was not started with the intention of going against men. We are not looking to start a war. We also want to empower men."
Revathy also informed the audience of the organisation's new plans, among which is the proposed formation of a committee to study the problems faced by the women in the industry, screening of films about female empowerment, discussions with unions in every area of the industry, a possible government liaison, and introduction of a new award called Bechdel Award (given to films where two women talk about anything other than a man).
She also addressed the complaints and criticisms levelled against WCC in the past year. The organisation came under fire last year for being harshly critical of some prominent male actors in the industry and not putting some of their initially proposed theories into practice. Will they deliver on the promises made? "We will work on this. As it's a first for all of us, we are slowly learning. We are all working professionals and have families. We will definitely get back to you."
We are not looking to wage a war (against men). We also want to empower men
Many members from the LGBT community were also present in the audience. A few of them spoke about promoting WCC in as many platforms as possible, especially social media. Transgender actor and activist Sheetal Shyam said: "We would like to see more members from WCC reacting to certain situations instead of just one or two. The group needs to be more active on social media. Visual and textual documentation of the group's activities must be made known to the public. And we need to address the issues of all genders, going beyond the male/female binary."
Veteran actor Pauly Valsan was honoured at the event. She said, "There was a time when I used to look in awe at all the actors appearing on the big screen. I didn't expect to be part of that world some day." This was followed by a screening of Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, starring Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri. The screening is supposedly the first of many more screenings to come.