SSAFF brings meaningful and thought-provoking cinema from South Asia with a focus on social issues dealing with, among others, gender, sexuality, religion, nationalism, casteism, racism, neo-liberalism, and imperialism. 2015 is the tenth anniversary of SSAFF. We mark this important milestone by hosting a symposium on ‘The Politics of Filmmaking in South Asia’, in collaboration with the South Asia Center at the University of Washington. The symposium will be held on October 19th & 20th at the UW Seattle and Bothell campuses, respectively.

The objective of this symposium is to open a conversation on the politics of filmmaking on human rights violations in South Asia: what has changed over the past ten years and what kind of challenges persist as filmmakers document, often risking their lives, the region’s disregard towards its abysmal state of human rights records, which gets exacerbated by the region’s asymmetrical development.

The symposium is structured around two objectives. The first is to capitalize on the filmmaking talent that comes to Seattle each Fall for SSAFF.  The second is to bridge the gap between the academia and community through scholarly presentations, and conversations and interviews with filmmakers. It aims to do so by providing a common platform to filmmakers, scholars, and members of the community to together explore how cinema interacts with the modern human rights movement, and the ways in which it can be used as a tool for resisting against human rights violations.

Key themes to be covered in the symposium:

  • Secularism, the rise of the right wing, and minority persecution.
  • Violence against women and the feminist movement.
  • Queer politics and the modern anti-heteronormative movement.
  • Neo-colonialism, the environment, and armed resistance.




Monday, October 19: Thomson Hall (Room 317) University of Washington, Seattle

08:30 – 09:00                 COFFEE AND LIGHT BREAKFAST


09:00 – 09.15                   Opening Remarks: Alka Kurian


09:15 – 11:15                     Film Screening: Red Ant Dream, Directed by Sanjay Kak


11:15 – 11:30                      BREAK


11:30 – 12:30                     Panel One: Minority Oppression

  • Sanjay Kak: Folding Film into the Resistance: A Short and Personal History of the Political Documentary in India
  • Deepti Misri: Return and Irreconciliation in Onir’s I Am (Megha)
  • Bidisha Biswas: In Kashmir, They Disappear: Revisiting AFSPA through the Lens of Haider


12:30 – 01:00                     Panel discussion


01:00 – 01:30                       LUNCH


01:30 – 02:30                      Film Screening: Dalit Women Fight, Directed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan


02:30 – 03:30                      Panel Two: Caste Oppression

  • Thenmozhi Soundararajan: Dalit Women’s Resistance
  • Bindu Menon: The Spectacular and the Quotidian:  Caste Violence in  Fandry and Papiliobuddha
  • Shoba Sharad Rajagopal: Thugs, Dacoits, and Politicians? Indigenous Communities in Indian Cinema Today


03:30 – 04:00                   Panel Discussion


04:00 – 04:15                    BREAK


04:15 – 05:15                      Panel Three: Gender Violence

  • Sangita Gopal: New Indian Cinema and the Woman Question
  • Shreerekha Subramanian: Feminist Masculinism: Imagined Response to Violence Against Women in Pradeep Sarkar’s Hindi Film Mardaani
  • Sonora Jha: The “Daughters” Beg to Differ: Feminist India’s Response to BBC Documentary India’s Daughter.


05:15 – 05:45                      Panel Discussion



Tuesday, October 20: University of Washington, Bothell, North Creek Event Center


08:30 – 09:00                    COFFEE AND LIGHT BREAKFAST


09:00 – 9:30                    Film Screenings:


9:30 – 11:00                      Panel Four: Gender, Nation, Identity

  • Hemal Trivedi, Mohammad Naqvi: Secularism, the Rise of the Right wing, and Minority Persecution
  • Fawzia Afzal Khan: Feminist Mediations: The Sacred and the Secular in three Pakistani Female Singers
  • Alka Kurian: Integrating Whose voice? Class and Nation in The Reluctant Fundamentalist


11:00 – 12:00                     Panel Discussion


12:00 – 01:00                     LUNCH


01:00 – 3:00                      Work in Progress: Rakesh Sharma


3:00 – 3:15                          BREAK


03:15 – 04:15                      Film Screening: Silence in the Courts, Directed by Prasanna Vithanage


04:15 – 05:15                      Panel Five: Human Rights, Censorship, and Nation

  • Bruce Kochis: The Future of Human Rights
  • Prasanna Vithanage: Many Faces of Censorship in an Ethno-Religiously Polarized Society
  • Nadeem Uddin: Bhopal 84 – Denial, Resistance and the Continuous disaster 30 years on


05:15 – 05:45                     Panel Discussion


05:45                                    Closing Remarks

Download: Politics of Filmmaking Symposium Program.pdf


Written by ssaff_tasveer