Conflict, migration and the experience of exile
The 2019 IAWRT documentary is on the theme of the worldwide refugee crisis and rising intolerance and polarisation all over the world.
As in previous years, IAWRT put out a call for proposals for the Long Documentary, a collaborative film helmed by the person whose proposal is selected, and made with contributions from members across the globe. The proposal selected by the Board came from Chandita Mukherjee of India who was asked to be the Executive Producer.
In turn she put out a second call for stories from IAWRT members, and the project came together. Film makers from Philippines, Tunisia, Canada and India came forward with stories about women refugees forced to flee from their countries and take shelter in unknown lands and internally displaced women who remain in their own countries, but whose lives are dislocated.
The documentary film is entitled Displacement & Resilience: women live for a new day. It has already won one award at the Short Film Festival, Kolkata, India.
As the stories came in from the four country directors tasked with bringing out the state of the women caught in conflict, this documentary film focused on the resilience of women refugees.
Chandita Mukherjee is the executive producer of Displacement and Resilience: women on the move likes to explore the different ways that people understand the world and act on it. She tries to communicate this through her non-fiction film practice and to sensitise audiences through the self awareness such knowledge creates. Chandiat also co-directed the Rohingya segment.
Erika Rae Macapayag Cruz (Philippines)
This segent tells the story of two communities in the Phillipines struggling to protect their land from being grabbed and exploited for profitable resourse based projects, through the eyes of two articulate women chieftains, Bai Bibyaon of the Lumad community and Bai Ellen of the Matigsalug people. Both communites came from the island of Mindinao.
Afrah Shafiq (India)
A portrayal of the lives in exile of Tibetan refugees living in Dharamshala in north-west India, told through Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari, an elected member of the parliament of the Tibetan government-in-exile. She and her colleagues work to make the world aware of the struggles within Tibet and human rights violations being carried out there against prisoners of conscience.
Khadija Lemkecher (Tunisia)
Syria in 2011 had 22 million people before armend resistance became on onging war supported by international players. In 2016 the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians as requiring humanitarian assistance. The protagonist of this story is Haifa, a woman from Ghouta and her extended family – who escaped the war on a ship and found refuge in Tunisia – without her husband, who has disappeared.
Eva Louise Brownstein (Canada)
Eva also fucused on the Syrian diaspora, examining the way formely home-bound women make a homes and engage with a new society. Set in Vancouver, Canada, this segment shows a group of Syrian refugee women who overcame their isolation in a foreign land through a food collective called Tayybeh, which specialises in Syrian regional cuisines.
Archana Kapor (India)
This part of the documentary travels into the Rohingya encampments in the state of Haryana in India, to bring us women’s accounts of their escape from violence of the genocadal attacks by the Myanmar Army and vigilante groups.
We also get a glimpse of the massive humanitarian activities of the UNHCR, through Sumbul Rizv, a senior UN Coordinator based at Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh which is 'home' to 920,000 refugees.
The completed film was previewed at the IAWRT Regional Conferrence in Kampala, Uganda, in October 2018,
Displacement and Resilience premiered on March 5th, 2019 at the15th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival, New Delhi.
Chandita Mukherjee, the Executive Producer was joined by the contributing directors from India, Archana Kapoor and Afrah Shafiq for interactions after the screening. The film received a warm response from the packed hall and was decribed by one reviewer as
"a sharp indictment of the lack of humanity within the state and the people, while doubling up as a celebration of the enduring spirit of resistance and an effective demand of [sic] reformative practices. " www.cinestaan.com
"Homeless and country-less, refugees pay the price for wars and purges. The film takes us deep into their psyche and focuses on the humanitarian work being done for their rehabilitation." P.K. Nair Award, jury citation
Kolkata Press Club: March 23, 2019 for some 26 media persons. Despite the pre-coccupation with the general elections at the time, this was a good screening with interesting questions being raised.
Rabindra Bharati University: March 25, 2019, morning screening with post-graduate students, jointly hosted by the Departments of Women's Studies, Human Rights and Media Studies.
St.Xavier's University, Kolkata: March 25, 2019, afternoon, screening at Mass Communication Department, with students of both undergraduate and post-graduate courses present.
"People thought it was very beautiful and they appreciated the breadth of forced migration that was represented, and how women were depicted as leaders and resilient problem solvers, not just victims." Conference organiser, Michaela Hynie