The Kerala government, in a landmark decision, has allocated a sum of Rs 3 crore for women in the Malayalam film industry. “The amount is to boost gender equality in the field and up the morale of these women,” Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, told media persons on Friday.
Tweeting on Friday, the Finance Minister also "Emergence of a women collective has been an important turning point in the struggle for gender equality in Malayalam film world. Kerala budget provides for a special scheme to financially support women film makers."
Emergence of a women collective has been an important turning point in the struggle for gender equality in Malayalam film world. Kerala budget provides for a special scheme to financially support women film makers.— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) February 7, 2019
The decision was made after a proposal was submitted to the government by Women in Cinema Collective on the problems faced by women in the field.
“We are happy that the government has taken such a decision. This is the first for any government in India. We have only heard of the European Union and Sweden government announce such schemes in the past,” Beena Paul, noted film editor and WCC member told TNM.
Beena says that is not yet clear what this sum will be used for and that the stakeholders in Malayalam cinema are in talks with the government to chalk out a framework for the same.
“The fund could be allotted for filmmakers, producers, scriptwriters or other women technicians in the industry. This is still a work in progress. There is no specific body that the fund will be transferred to either,” she added.
Following the 2017 actor assault case in Kerala, a faction of women in the Malayalam industry has been vocal about gender discrimination and sexism prevalent in their workplace. The Women in Cinema Collective formed post this development has worked towards providing equal opportunities for women in the industry.
“It is very difficult to make a film as it is. And women find it 10 times more difficult to do so. We don’t find producers ready to fund us. We had made the government aware of this and other problems we face and they were ready to help us,” Beena added.
A small amount, but a big first step
Though the amount allocated by the government is a mere drop in the ocean of big money the movie industry witnesses, WCC members are positive that it is an important first step.
“We realise it is a very small amount. But this amount could help at least a few women. These days, documentary makers make films in Rs 30-40 lakh and this amount could be subsidised for them, without compromising on quality. Therefore, such token amounts are important,” Beena added.
She also added that the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) which was founded back in 1996, began with a token amount but managed to become successful and make money.
“If this works out well, the government has promised to extend the scheme in the future,” she added.