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My Heart Is In Islamabad – From India With Love

Posted by Vaishnavi Sundar
March 8, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

It was April last year that I was introduced to Madeeha Raza: a filmmaker, entrepreneur and a community activist from Islamabad, Pakistan. We immediately decided to collaborate on a project which she was hoping to put together in a year’s time. We jumped on a bunch of calls, made a lot of plans, and in the corner of my heart, I really did have a feeling that I was going to go to Pakistan for this event. I took sincere efforts towards making it possible, we even announced it — with all the hope.

As things progressed, we realised that it was no easy task. It seemed like our respective governments weren’t really kicked about it because they’d rather engage in fear mongering its citizens with war and terrorism tropes. I am an individual, I am not wealthy, I do not have contacts and I certainly don’t have any idea how I can assure either governments that I am not a terrorist or a spy. To be honest, I gave up trying because the enormity of the situation overwhelmed me.

Hellishly in India, it is also a regime of bans — banning opinions, women, dead animals — banning humans that eat dead animals, killing them at times — banning books, book writers, poets, and banning everything that would go against the collective opinion of a total of one human being. This person may or may not own an expensive suit. Actually, sarcasm is banned too. Hot darn!

Anyway, it sucked that I will not be able to go this time, so I decided to send a part of me to Pakistan. Madeeha is putting together the first ever, Women’s Internation Film Festival in Pakistan and it starts on the week of International Women’s Day. So I made a film exclusively for this festival and I am really over the moon that the jury liked and selected it.

I can’t stress enough on the importance of such events, whether or not the filmmakers are able to personally attend them. We also need a flourishing ecosystem for women to come together and wipe the border away, albeit digitally. The community that I founded, and Madeeha’s are doing just that. I urge all female filmmakers/enthusiasts to come forward and create events, where films made by women can be screened. The scale of the event doesn’t matter, as much the intent behind it would. Filmmakers in the US and UK are doing some stellar work in community building and breaking the glass ceiling. I hope that this little anguish filled rant serves as a call to more women taking note of such communities and engage with them in some way or the other.

To WIFF 2017, may it grow exponentially, kicking patriarchy out of the door.

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