Hindi film Soni won the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award at the JIO MAMI 20th Mumbai Film Festival with Star. The winner was announced at the closing ceremony of the festival.
Soni, directed by debutant director Ivan Ayr and starring Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra, explores the lives of two Delhi policewomen. The film shows how these two female officers react to the rise of sexual violence. The film is an attempt to understand the rage policewomen feel against the sexual violence in the capital of the country while at the same time, being saddled with the responsibility to enforce and uphold the law.
“We are thrilled that Soni, a film with strong female characters, has won the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award. It is an important film and we hope this award will help the filmmaker take the film to a wider audience. The third edition of this award must encourage more filmmakers to make cinema that breaks gender stereotypes and norms. Soni has been added to a diverse bouquet of films that have won the award – Lipstick Under My Burkha and Village Rockstars. We want this list to keep increasing,” said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar.
The filmmaker spent considerable time with the Delhi Police department in order to understand the dynamics between various ranks of female police officers. He shot the film in real locations in Delhi and that added to the challenges he had to face.
“Winning the Oxfam Best Film On Gender Equality award is a big honour and brings a great amount of credibility to the film's intentions and its achievement. As a filmmaker it encourages me to continue to tell stories that are about the human condition and human experiences, oblivious to the gender of the character,” said director Ivan.
'Soni' director Ivan Ayr
The three-member jury of director Rima Das, director and screenwriter Anjali Menon and CEO of Doha Film Institute Fatma Al Remaihi selected Soni from the eight films shortlisted for the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award 2018.
"Soni is a very hard-hitting and realistic depiction of the constant dilemmas and more importantly, the rage that women feel towards sexual crimes. What the film also shows is the vulnerability of women police officers who have to be law enforcers at work but off duty are just like other women with fears and apprehensions of being potential victims. It’s a very topical film given the current narrative on gender dynamics,” said jury member Anjali Menon.
Speaking on the Oxfam Gender Equality category, Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, MAMI, said “We are in the 3rd year of our partnership with Oxfam and are extremely proud of what this platform has grown to represent. This year saw 8 films, directed by men, that showcased the nuanced portrayals of women onscreen. Juxtaposed was the Jury panel of truly powerful women who have been shaping the film industry not just in India but globally as well.”
An Oxfam special jury mention went for Sivaranjani and Two Other Women by Vasanth S Sai for representing gender equality. Jonaki by Aditya Vikram Sengupta received the second Oxfam special jury mention for gender equality.
A still from the movie 'Jonaki'
This year eight films were shortlisted for the Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award. The films that were shortlisted this year were Imago, Hamid, Soni, Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil, Light In The Room, Nathicharami, Sivaranjani And Two Other Women and Jonaki. Last year Rima Das' Assamese film Village Rockstars had won the award.
A still from the movie Sivaranjani And Two Other Women
ABOUT OXFAM INDIA
Oxfam works primarily through grassroots organisations to bring deep-rooted sustainable changes in people’s lives. We do this through long-term development programming and link it to positive policy changes at various levels. We work for the socially excluded and most marginalised communities by mobilising them to campaign for greater economic and social reforms. We use our learnings about what works and what doesn’t at the grassroots level, through research and advocacy, to bring about pro-poor changes in policies and institutions.
We see poverty as a problem of power, the lack of power. Our programmes are currently active in the critical states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. We work with the most marginalised segments – Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, and Women. For them, poverty is more than lack of income, healthcare and education. It is a crippling state where these groups do not have any control in deciding the course of their own lives. They are excluded from basic decision-making rights.