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Ajitesh Sharma's documentary WOMB (Women Of My Billion) to open 12th Indian Film Festival of Melbourne

The festival, which is scheduled to be held from 12 to 30 August, will be conducted in a hybrid mode this year.

Our Correspondent

Ajitesh Sharma’s documentary WOMB (Women Of My Billion) will be screened on the opening night of the 12th edition of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IIFM) in Australia on 12 August.

The film narrates the story of Srishti Bakshi who makes the monumental journey of learning about the trials and challenges faced by women and girls from Kanyakumari to Kashmir during the COVID-19 pandemic.

IFFM had a digital edition last year owing to COVID-19 constraints. However, this year the festival will be held in hybrid mode. While the physical edition will be held from 12 to 20 August, the digital festival will run from 15 to 30 August.

Slated for a physical screening, WOMB was also screened at the London Indian Film Festival recently.

In the documentary, Bakshi makes the journey of 4,000km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir over 240 days while meeting and learning about women whose social and economical difficulties multiplied during the pandemic.

"Violence against women and girls is a human-rights violation,” she said. According to emerging data and reports, since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the preventive lockdown measures, violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified within the four walls of their houses.

"The documentary celebrates ordinary women who have shown extraordinary courage to rise above their limitations and challenge deeply entrenched gender norms," Bakshi continued. “We did this to unite the majority because what we discovered was that gender-based violence is a crime perpetrated by the minority but perpetuated by the silence of the majority.”

Promising “double the fun” with the hybrid mode of the festival, IFFM director Mittu Bhowmick Lange said, “After the unprecedented challenges faced over the last 18 months, we are excited to bring the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne back to the big screen, while our digital platform will ensure viewers around Australia can access the festival too.”

In 2021, the IFFM will pay tribute to not only the best of Indian cinema, but also to COVID-19 heroes, offering vital community support, connection and hope in these troubled times.

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Indian Film Festival of Melbourne