Women International Film Festival 2019 awards Swedish filmmaker top prize

Women International Film Festival 2019 awards Swedish filmmaker top prize

"In terms of equality, Pakistan can be compared to Sweden a couple of hundred years ago," said winner Alexe Landgren
Updated 10 Mar, 2019

The Women International Film Festival 2019 awarded Alexe Landgren from Sweden first prize for her short film Till the Sun Comes in the Sky.

The film shows a four year old boy playing with dolls, reflecting his parents’ relationship, while a quarrel escalates between them.

“I’m especially glad because it is a feminist film festival. I live in Sweden, which is one of the top five countries on the list of equality even though Sweden is not equal. We still have rape and violence against women, women are paid less, they are unrepresented in media and have hard time reaching top positions in society.

“On the same list Pakistan is in the bottom three. Perhaps it can be compared to Sweden a couple of hundred years ago. It’s not an easy struggle but it is necessary. Everyone will gain from not suppressing half our population,” Alexe Landgren said in a video message that was screened at the festival.

The five-day festival came to a close at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on Saturday.

The WIFF was founded to represent stories of women and depict the diverse and multifaceted roles that they play in society as well as the struggles they face. According to founder and director Madeeha Raza, it is also a platform for female filmmakers to network and celebrate the accomplishments of other women.

“One of the main focuses of the festival is to shift the narrative pertaining to women in order to combat gender inequality. With mainstream entertainment regurgitating the same old biases about the roles and behaviours of women, it is imperative that the representation of women goes beyond the normative roles defined by the social historical context of the society,” she told the audience.

The festival received nearly 1,000 entries from several countries, including Iran, India, Spain, Italy, France, the United States, and from within Pakistan.

Of these, the 13 best were selected and screened. In addition, films by women from Spain, Bulgaria and Austria were also shown.

The first runner up for this year was India’s Vaishnavi Sundar for her short film Pava, the portrayal of the metamorphosis of a relationship between a young girl and a barber.

The second runners up were Begonia Randhav from Sweden for Blatten – which followed a young woman who takes matters into her own hands after one traumatic night in Stockholm, as well as Nasim Foroogh from Iran for Déjà Vu.

Ms Foroogh was able to accept her prize in person, and said she was glad as an Iranian woman that she was present for the festival.

European Union Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain, who was invited as the chief guest, said he was pleased the festival expanded this year with a number of films from EU member states.

He said he was very impressed by the short films, adding: “Clearly a number of the stories reflected in the movies are more than sad. We read these stories of aggression in reports. There is a lot of work to do.”

Originally published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019