The First Festival

The last 20 odd days have been nothing short of a miracle – I keep saying this because the magnitude of this event hasn’t sunk in fully yet. And this would probably be the only personal blog post for WMF as I hope, going forward, it will be more about the community than me. A long list of people to thank and send cookies & brownies to, but before that, here is a visual journey from inception to the way forward:

 infographicThis whole endeavour (The First Festival) is a communion of so many people all over the world. It is not at all possible to pull off an event of this magnitude without the micro and macro level assistance from various people – who were mostly strangers, if not for WMF. Because the list is just unbelievably long, I will split them based on cities. So many more people, outside of this list too, helped out in whatever way possible by them – please feel free to belong – this is all about you! 🙂 yay!

Trivandrum: Thanks to Anoodha for putting me in touch with a powerhouse of enthusiasm – Aswani Dravid! Her commitment to the project in hand was so inspiring that whenever I had a dull moment, I’d think of her and reboot myself. Like me, a perfectionist and insomniac by nature, she didn’t rest until the event was done. From the time of our conversation, she turned the whole thing around in less than 4 days. Woman, you are a superstar!

I thank every single member of her team – her friends, the guests who were part of the panel, audience members and media personnel who wrote such kind words about WMF and popularized it widely. Thanks to RKFI, Nirvana Lounge and other supporters, who quietly and elegantly enabled the entire event.

Hyderabad: Though a lot of time was wasted going to and fro figuring out the right person to spearhead the Hyderabad chapter, in retrospect, it is just perfect the way it worked out. Shiva Sai – thank you so much my friend. Sometimes I wonder if he is real or a figment of my imagination. Till date, I have not even heard his voice; the entire event took shape via chat, email and texts. It was a matter of time before the permission formality was done – he simply took over completely from there on. Despite heavy rain, people managed to make it to the venue, watch and appreciate the films. The entire group of students belonging to the SPRING community, I thank you ever so much. We will have so many more events planned there and hopefully, I’d be able to be with you not just as a video, but physically too.

Noida & Delhi: Thank you Kshitij so much, for volunteering to host it in The Design Village Noida. The auditorium looks so beautiful and elegant, making it even more special for these films to be screened there. A fitting tribute to all female filmmakers worldwide! Okay, I tried thanking you formally but it seems incomplete, to be honest.

Kshitij basically took over too, not just with a screening at TDV but also a chilled out, banter laden screening AT HIS TERRACE! Yay! 🙂 Thank you Aina, Lalit and a bunch of others who (I think) brought some snacks and juice to the screening too! Thank you Manisha for attending, talking to me about WMF and popularizing it via media channels. Thank you!

Kolkata: Thank you Narayan Sir for putting me in touch with Raka. Raka Dutta, an alumnus of SRFTI just made by life simpler by making a bunch of phone calls and arranged a grand screening of the festival in the most prestigious of places: SRFTI auditorium. Thank you Vinay and Sarath for helping out with the execution of the event. My aspiration to visit SRFTI was satisfied vicariously through TFF. Thank you Nivedita, for making a sweet little film called ‘Different Strokes’ and being at the venue during the screening.

Mumbai: A lot of trouble arranging things in Mumbai but in the end, there were 2 amazing screenings in 2 different venues in the city. Thank you Riddhima for managing the event at Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering, NMIMS University. Thank you so much Mihir for being a fantastic host. The photos were great and made me feel so bad about not being there personally.

There were some last minute cancellations that made it very difficult to start from scratch but what can be more exciting than challenges and last minute surprises for a filmmaker. Thank you Cyrus for putting me on to the beautiful location GalleriaM, not only did we have a screening there, it brought me in touch with Shilika for many future events under WMF. Thank you Shilika and the entire team at GalleriaM for being a great host.

It is not a cliché when people say; life’s toughest questions have the simplest answers. I was running from pillar to post trying to look for some help in Mumbai and reluctantly asked Nita if she could take over the Mumbai Chapter. I was reluctant only  because, I know how busy she is with her projects and a constant mind voice: “No, Vaish. Don’t disturb Nita” was stopping me too. But I did ask her and she simply said yes – that’s it! That’s all it took! 🙂 I could not stop grinning alone in my room with the way it all turned out to be. THANK YOU Nita, you are a star!

PuneMariya, my homegirl! Yes, your cheesecake is on its way, as soon I know I am going to be in Pune. Thank you Pradeep for putting me on to the best!

There was absolutely no attendance in Pune. Nobody showed up – no friends, no friends of friends, not even people who lived next door to the venue. I was very upset – for all the work put in and for Mariya’s time. On both days, she and a couple of her friends alone watched 15 films. A lot of people promised to help – by being there and letting their friends know etc.. Sadly nothing helped. Pune was ridiculously disappointing. But, it really doesn’t matter because, in future I am sure, the universe will find ways to balance itself. Thank you Janardhan for putting me on to Advait. Thanks for letting us host it in The Cartel, Advait.

Bangalore: (2)


The First Festival

Again, a lot of time had to be forgone because of last minute cancellations and what not. But still, so many people to thank! Thank you Haynes & Roshind for your lead to JAAGA. Thanks a million Archana Prasad for your benevolence in making this event an exception and letting us use the gorgeous space for free. Sneh, thank you for standing by from the time the association was confirmed. Thank you so much Dolly, Tejas, Deepak and Meenakshi for being just a phone call away. I am proud of us, YAY! 🙂

Chennai: When one is starting out, it is great to be associated with the best of teams so the collective goodness gives the smaller community a much-needed push. We almost thought it wont work out didn’t we Geetha? But we persevered and Goethe Institut took us onboard. Thank you so much Helmut Schippert for being so encouraging and motivating of the work WMF intends to do! It is moments like this that make weeks of erratic sleep and food cycle not so damaging after all. It is a fantastic start to a long relationship, culturally, artistically. – thank you so much.

Thank you to all the media personnel who responded to me on time and went out of the way in writing about the event, community and female filmmakers in general, the sign ups have since doubled. This event has perhaps made itself a tiny mark in the history. We have had about 20 imprints from various sources in the span of 15 days. Which is more than one article per day. It is one accomplishment I’d continue to feel humbled about.

THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH Barbara Ann O’Leary and the Directed By Women community for catching me at the right time and being the inspiration for the whole festival. THANK YOU to all the filmmakers who trusted and sent their films to me. Me: an individual with a crazy idea who you’ve never met before. Thank you!

Thank you Puvi Aunty for opening up your home to me – with unlimited food and valuable suggestions now and then.

And finally, the men of WMF who took this initiative up as their own and spent their days (and nights) for TFF. Helps me stress how important it is to have male allies, in making groundbreaking changes through feminism. So many of you helped in your own invaluable ways. Even as much as taking time to attend the screening. I am ever so thankful to all of you.

So many people dismissed the idea to be a joke. Some passive aggressively dissuaded me. SO MANY people I hoped and wished would help but refused to. Thank you. You pushed me to trust my ego and led me to do something amazing.

For many more laurels and collaborations to come – I call TFF a wrap!