Women play starring role in DC film fest

Directors Boney Kapoor and Zoya Akhtar, and actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jhanvi Kapoor honored at the event focusing on independent cinema


indica News Bureau


“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. It is the time for women’s empowerment.”


That was Frank Islam, an Indian-American IT entrepreneur, philanthropist and civic leader speaking at the 7th DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF) held from September 7 through September 9 at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland and co-hosted by Women in Film & Television (WIFT) and Montgomery College.


Film producer Boney Kapoor second from right at the (DCSAFF) film fest.

The three-day festival showcased 14 independent films and documentaries, It also honored director and producer Boney Kapoor with its Lifetime Achievement award and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan with its Meryl Streep Award of Excellence by Women in Film & Television (WIFT).


Bachchan, who received an award from Oscar-nominated actress Candy Clark. said in her speech that it was a dream come true to receive an award named after Streep.


Director Zoya Akhtar, known for films Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do, was honored with the Wyler Award of Excellence, named after Academy Award-winning director William Wyler.


Jhanvi Kapoor, daughter of Bollywood actress Sridevi and film producer Boney Kapoor was honored with Face Of The Future Award. Kapoor’s debut Bollywood film ‘Dhadak’, starring with Ishaan Khatter was released in July this year.


Geeta Singh, a banker by profession and has co-founded the DCSAFF along with her husband Manoj Singh, said the Washington DC area was lacking a forum to promote South Asians independent films.


“The main objective of starting the festival was to screen mostly independent films, to offer a platform for independent films, and also to spread their knowledge of diversity and south Asians,” she told indica in a call.


She said the festival received over 100 films and documentary submissions from South Asian countries, though only 14 made the final cut.


Islam, the closing night keynote speaker, said, “Tell your stories now so that Indian women can learn from them. Empower those women to write their own stories. Use those stories to write more stories. This ensures that the empowerment cycle will not be broken. It will go on and on and on.

Frank Islam with Jhanvi Kapoor at the film fest.


“We need to ensure that the rays of empowerment that are shining forth here carry back to India and are magnified one thousand-fold,” he said. “In this 21st century, we need to see more – many more – women behind the camera, producing, directing, writing screenplays, designing sets, performing every job that is required to produce a quality film.”


He said that ultimately there needed to be stories by, for and about women.


“For most of the history of Indian film, there have been few stories told about women,” Islam said. ”The treatment of women in Indian films has normally fallen into the 3-S trap. Those S’s are ‘secondary,’ ‘superficial,’ and ‘stereotypical.’ This needs to change to enable Indian women to aspire to be whatever they can be. It is important for the future of Indian women and the future of India itself.”



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