“Call us filmmakers, not women filmmakers”
Filmmakers, actors and technicians, speaking at the 13th edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) on Tuesday, blasted the genre for their talent and success.
Assamese actor and director Aimee Baruah was the first to express his displeasure.
“Whether it’s television or film festivals, they classify us as female filmmakers. I’m against. Filmmakers are just filmmakers,” she said.
Cinematographer Preetha Jayaraman shared a funny example of the sexism she faces on film sets or studios, “To this day, my name is cameraman ma’am.”
They were speaking at a panel discussion on “Women in Film” alongside veteran sound designer and mixing engineer Geeta Gurappa, Kannada lead actor-producer Suman Nagarkar, Bengali actor Rituparna Sengupta , costume designer and director Roshni Dinaker and editor Preethi Mohan.
Panelists recalled how they broke into the male-dominated industry over different decades — a journey marked by a chance discovery, convincing families to let them out late for work, land the right opportunities and work twice as hard to be taken seriously.
Rituparna said with a laugh that the “frowns and questions” about her work haven’t subsided even after so many years of marriage.
Geeta felt that more women are now working as directors, producers and technicians, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the “mindset” inside and outside the industry has broadened. “We women have adapted (to work around such a mindset). We can do it, we have taken this position”.
“(Even today) we fight for equal pay,” Preetha said in response to a question about pay disparity.
The lack of identity cards for female make-up artists was also mentioned.
“Women are human beings, not objects,” Suman lambasted the term “object songs” used for dance routines featuring female stars. She also shared an anecdote when a male DOP said he would not work with a female colleague on the team.
Sexism aside, women can be their own enemies, panelists said.
Some suffer from a lack of self-confidence while others put themselves down, which hurts the cause of their greater participation in films, they said.
“We don’t see women networking during film festivals (as much as men do). We are stronger together,” Geeta said.
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