Women as objects of desire, women as just pretty props to satiate the salicious instincts of audiences. Women who just play second fiddle to the hero who takes centre stage at the helm of affairs. Well, these are all pretty much accepted and proverbial stereotypical images that film makers have been perpetuating since ages. Thankfully, now, these are becoming a thing of the past.
Today the clock has turned a full circle. The gender disparity almost gone. Films today are about women, by women, for women, championing their cause, their conflicts, far from the male gaze, notwithstanding. Be it behind or before the camera, women have not only broken, and are breaking, the glass ceiling, thereby virtually laying the templates of the industry, which has been known, more for its entertainment, than aesthetic aspects, that rarely gave women their due and respectability they deserve. Pay parity may be still a bone of contention and a sore point of pinprick still puncturing the industry where winds of change are, however, fast blowing. Yes this too is bound to change and become an anomaly of the past.
And precisely saluting this fortitudinous legion of brave breed of women, both carving a niche as auteur of standing, and actresses of repute, was the 43rd Toronto International Festival, which saw as many as sixty two plus creative independent cinematic works, being showcased by women filmmakers drawn from across the globe, thereby turning the celluloid beacon deservedly, and long overdue, on them, as also presenting a marvelous medley of works for audiences to savor, assimilate and debate about. From thematic concerns ranging from women empowerment, to their singular struggles against chauvinistic male orientated patriarchal system, the panoply of auteur works proving, without inkling of doubt, that these enterprising women auteurs were more than a match for the men, who, for a long time, had the industry skewed favorably to their gender and ilk, consigning the better parts to the margins.
Each of the enterprising, engaging and ensemble works of these women directors, drawn from as multitudinous of diverse cultures possible, turned an object lesson providing several takeaways for the avowed audiences, in terms of their thematic concerns, and the delectable delineations these women directors tackled them with aplomb and assuredness of cinematic craft. Specially, the young, ambitious and aspiring directors, striking it on their own with the chutzpah and panache of seasoned veterans and their icons they look upon to and draw their inspirations.
In fact, nearly 35 per cent of the 300 plus films showcased under various curated sections, forming the tableau of creative, art house cinematic oeuvres at the TIFF, were rightfully by women, which had made a concentrated and conscious attempt to address the gender parity issues at the prestigious annual film jamboree. The cross cultural diversity from across the globe proving that despite their diversified backgrounds and upbringing, and social concerns, the singular script that knit all these women directors were the challenges and conflicts that women, be it as a girl child, as a single mother, career woman, and the like, even in this age, and time, continue to face and fight, with the doggedness and doughtiness these societal shackles impose on them, with all the audaciousness of a valiant warriors, was borne by the brilliant body of works that one got to witness at TIFF.
The eclectic fare that the eleven day film festival had put in place was indeed an eye opener, with the women directors driving home the message, succinctly and forcefully, that not all is lost for the league of women and that their numbers may still be a miniscule and minor one, with the male majority still having the fortunes of the industry in their octopus grip, the new horizon and new hope awaits those women waiting in the wings. It is only that they need to take their future in their hands and the world would follow them in the amphitheatre of achievement and acclaim that the tiara of success would bring and bestow of them.