Published: 24th February 2017
Meet this feminist who is redefining stereotypes through her filmmaking community for women
Filmmaker Vaishnavi Sundar talks about her brainchild Women Making Films, a platform for female filmmakers to showcase and promote their work
Vaishnavi Sundar, independent filmmaker, who founded the non-profit community Women Making Films-India (WMF) in 2015 says, "Women's day is not about men. Isn't it ironic that we are still having to explain it? I despise men who think women's day is the day they "allow" the women in their lives to take a break. Women don't have to be "celebrated" when they are only going to be taking home half the salary compared to men and men regulating a woman's biological clock. This drama must end. Men need to evolve."
“This country isn’t for women,” says Vaishnavi Sundar with conviction. Unless you have been through a life of ordeal for who you are, you wouldn’t make such a strong statement. “Sometimes I think that I should just pack my bags and leave, but then I think of a few women who did what they had to do for us to vote or even sit and talk like this. And that’s what keeps me going,” explains Vaishnavi. This community serves as a platform for women filmmakers all over the world to showcase their work and create a network among professionals from different aspects of the industry.
Shot cuts: Vaishnavi while shooting her film
“A few years ago, when I realised that it isn’t easy for a woman to be a filmmaker in this country, I figured it would be nice to have a support system that has your back and makes it relatively easier for you. Can you believe that there are none in India? Being the feminist that I am, instead of whining about it, I started this community,” says Vaishnavi, who also has her own production company, Lime Soda Films. In a year, WMF has over a hundred members and it has conducted about sixteen film festivals across the globe to screen movies made by women or people who identify themselves as women. They have partnered with similar international communities to collaborate and promote the work of their members. On the website, she has compiled archival posts on iconic women in cinema along with interviews of upcoming female professionals in the film industry like Jyoti Kapoor, who won her case of script plagiarism against a Bollywood filmmaker.
“I also do children outreach programmes at schools, NGOs, and slums where I screen movies made for or by kids that highlight crucial social issues like gender inequality, consent and rape, racism and so on. Not many understand how important childhood is for an individual. So when a child understands these things at that age, it sticks with them for life. Through a movie it’s easy to talk about these issues,” she says before adding, “I just require some assistance from the school to help me screen these movies. That’s not too much to ask, is it?” She also wants to help the children understand that it’s possible for a woman to make it big in the film industry and that film-making is a good career option.
When two people talk about cinema, there’s almost a zero chance that they will talk about a woman who made a movie. I want to change that!
Vaishnavi Sundar, filmmaker
Apart from being a filmmaker, Vaishnavi Sundar has many feathers in her cap. She’s a theatre artist with an MBA degree who quit her corporate job to take up film-making as a full time profession. She’s an activist who writes regular blog posts, which talks about issues right from the way people treat the LGBT community in our country to running a campaign against movies like Remo, which poorly mistakes stalking as wooing women. Her post on the unofficial ban on emergency contraceptive pills in Tamil Nadu garnered a lot of attention and now the State Drug Controller has recently written to the Centre, allowing over-the-counter sale of the drug. You can reach out to her platform at - http://www.wmfindia.com
Check out the teaser of her film, Pava