Celebrating Girls on Celluloid is film festival held in Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata. The selection of films spread over a span of more than a decade but are as relevant today as they were when first made. The festival, jointly organized by Parichiti, an organization working for the rights of girl children and CRY – Child Rights and You was spread over two days on May 15 and 16 with two interesting panel discussions on the girl-child’s education and development.
The films screened were White Noise directed jointly by Ahana Chakraborty and Pritha Biswas, Maatir Bhaanr by Debananda Sengupta, Boxing Ladies by Anusha Nandakumar, Postmaster by Satyajit Ray, Films Division’s Education Her Only Future, The Magic Tree (Polish) by Andrzej Maleszka and Vola’s Ticket jointly directed by Jacqueline de Brujin and Kay Mastenbrook. The Max Mueller Bhavan was packed to capacity on both days of the festival. White Noise (English) is about child sexual abuse and the makers have tried to put in their best without sentimentalizing the subject or martyring the victim.
Maatir Bhaanr won the National Award for the Best Film on Social Issues and the Best Audiography Award in 1998. The merit of the film lies in its honesty rather than on its technical finesse. There is no sense of condescension on the part of the filmmaker handling his subject. Boxing Ladies is a noted Hindi film directed by Anusha Nandakumar. It is about Zainab, Bushra and Sughra, three teenage sisters from a Muslim family in a Kolkata slum who have braved all odds to become national level boxers. It took the sisters several years to overcome social disapproval. Their mother, Ruksana Begum (40), a housewife who had lived her entire life behind the veil, almost went into a shock.
Postmaster (Bengali) is the touching story of a relationship between a postmaster who comes to a remote village and unwittingly offers a ray of hope to the little, unlettered, orphan girl Ratan who works for him, by teaching her to read and write. But he leaves when he rises from a bad bout of malaria, leaving the orphan forlorn and alone. The Magic Tree tells the story of a magic tree chopped to make furniture with special powers. A chair takes three children on a fantastic adventure. Vola’s Ticket (Bengali) talks about a young boy who gets into trouble with a vicious loan shark when he comes to the city to make money. A girl helps him solve his problems.