7 screenplays shortlisted for Manipur State Film Development Society mentorship programme

A short film campaign on women entrepreneurship in India was started on August 18 as part of Indo-German development cooperation project on women entrepreneurship in India called Her&Now.

Together with the local partner ‘Dhriiti – The Courage Within’ and other entrepreneurship stakeholders from the Northeast, the online event on August 18 marked the official start of the Her&Now film campaign in the Northeast, through which the project wants to initiate a positive debate around women entrepreneurship.

Deputy head of economic cooperation and development division at the German Embassy in New Delhi, Dirk Steffes-Enn, gave an introducing keynote on the occasion.

The live discussion focussed on two of the films: ‘Ritu Goes Online’ a documentary directed by Vrinda Samartha (Believe Films) and an animation film ‘Pahal – An Initiative’ directed by Swarup Deb, Anuj Kumar and Avinash Medhe (Girgit Studios). The filmmakers were joined by the ‘Pahal’ voice actor Dipannita Sharma-Atwal.

“Through this film, I hope the society sees value in the kind of financial benefits and change in mindset women entrepreneurs can bring in. I also hope it inspires more families to come forward to support them”, said Vrinda Samartha.

Her documentary ‘Ritu Goes Online’ depicts the inspiring story of how Ritu Kaushik, a homemaker with no background in business, nor a complete education, runs a very successful handbag business today. The protagonist herself hopes that through this film “more and more women get the opportunity to realize their potential so that they can give wings to their dreams.”

Cleverly applying different animation styles, the short film ‘Pahal – An Initiative’ tells the stories of three women entrepreneurs. Despite being from very diverse backgrounds, they find a connection with each other while waiting for a venture funding event to begin. “Our hope for the film is to bring about a mindset change within the families to become the nourishing soil to help more and more women entrepreneurs to flourish. Also, to motivate women to break boundaries and find ways to unleash their entrepreneurial potential,” said directors Swarup Deb, Anuj Kumar and Avinash Medhe.

Dipannita Sharma-Atwal led her voice to the character Mridu, a young and ambitious entrepreneur from Assam. For the actor, originally from Assam herself, the films stand for women supporting each other: “The importance of women empowerment as a global topic is at the heart of this film. That, as women we can inspire and encourage each other to achieve seemingly impossible goals.”

The other two short films – ‘B Selvi & Daughters’ a fiction film directed by Drishya Gautham (Stray Factory) and ‘Kashmakash – The Dilemma’, a fiction film directed by Manav Rath (Eleeanora Images)– were also shared with the audience as an exclusive preview.

They are in the focus of the two other online Her&Now film premieres for selected guests this month.

“Film is a powerful medium that reflects and shapes dominant societal discourses and perceptions about gender norms. Through the Her&Now film campaign we want to increase the visibility of the entrepreneurial spirit of women in India. We hope the short films and the discussions around them will contribute to a mindset change that recognizes women’s ambitions, skills and rights to be entrepreneurs,” said Julia Karst, Project Head of Her&Now.

While physical screenings were not possible due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the moment, the project will provide digital options to watch the short films over the next months and will establish local screenings partnerships.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is implementing the project ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Start-ups by Women’ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), to promote aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs in India. Under the name of ‘Her&Now’, the project supports the Indian Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE) in improving the overall framework conditions for women-led businesses through implementation of incubation and acceleration support programmes for women entrepreneurs. The project also includes a media campaign to tell the stories of successful women entrepreneurs and to foster a positive mindset change in society.

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