KASAMA Vol. 18 No. 3 / July-August-September 2004 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

30 JUNE TO 3 JULY 2004

AP NGO Forum Mini-Film Festival Celebrated Women Filmmakers

A mini-film festival capped each day of Asia-Pacific NGO Forum, drawing a crowd of women interested in seeing their issues highlighted on the audiovisual medium of film/video.

THE WORKS were a mixture of productions in film, analogue and digital video formats. Countries represented by the films were Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, India, Laos, Bangladesh, Iran, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. The genres were experimental short films, documentaries, and narrative fiction.

The festival commenced on 30 June at the Mahidol University with the Iranian feature-length film entitled Zendan-e Zanan (Women in Prison). The film was written and directed by Manijeh Hekmat, who said the film shown was the director's cut or the version unapproved by the government. The second film featured was the Bangladesh production When We Walk The Streets made by the women of the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW). The women involved in this production were present during the filmfest opening and talked about related productions. The festival then moved to Viengtai Hotel in Bangkok.

One anticipated film was Unlimited Girls written and directed by Paromita Vohra of India. The feature-length video production (94 minutes) used a fun and postmodern approach in discussing the women's movements, depicting how young women - with or without the usual "isms" (feminism, lesbianism) - figure in on all these different movements today. Another film that drew interest was Say I Do written and directed by Arlene Ami. This Filipino-Canadian documentary production highlighted the story of the 'mail-order bride' - the experience or process where Filipino women from the provinces search for a foreign husband whom they see as "saviours" from poverty.

Other issues tackled in the films were cross-border trafficking in the Mekong region (Their Corner of the Sky from Laos, directed by Vannaphone Sitthirath), and overseas domestic workers' lives (Maid in Singapore by noted Filipino screenwriter Clodualdo del Mundo), to name a few.

Some of the filmmakers were present during the screenings and in a mini-forum they had the chance to introduce their work and entertain questions from the audience. In the film Running With The Media In Japan, filmmakers Asuka Tomaru and Sally McLaren of Ritsumeikan University, Japan discussed the lack of proper female representation in news broadcasts. Sri Lankan director Anoma Rajakaruna was also present to speak about her films entitled Yet Another Five... and Out of the Shadows. Both tackled gender-based abuse. Chinese-Australian Hui Li was also there to entertain questions about China's persecution of Falun Gong followers, the topic of her documentary entitled Three Women. One of the women featured in the documentary was also present to talk about her experiences.

As the filmfest drew to a close, many in the audience were interested to learn how to procure copies of the film. For that information, please visit the AP NGO Forum website and contact the film festival committee through Terry Hermano (e-mail:

With minor editing for space considerations, the articles from the AP-NGO Forum on Beijing Plus 10, Mahidol University, Salaya, Thailand on 30 June to 3 July 2004 written by Libay Linsangan Cantor of Isis International-Manila originally appeared in "We!", No. 45, July 2004.

We! is the newsletter of Isis International-Manila, a non-government organisation that services women's information and communication needs within and beyond Asia and the Pacific region.

You can access an electronic version of WE! from the Isis website at

Isis International-Manila,
3 Marunong St.
Barangay Central,
Quezon City,
Philippines 1100