Extraordinary, stunning, sobering, hopeful, disheartening, disturbing, encouraging, heart-rending – and set on the edge of the magnificent Lodhi Gardens, in Delhi: The Peace Builders International Film Festival, celebrating women’s critical role in transforming situations of conflict, from the kitchen to the commons, the killing fields to the oil fields. Here is a list of my ‘favourites’, if you can call films so hard to watch one wants to look away ‘favourites’:
Sri Lankan women’s formation of a Jamaat (council) sympathetic to women’s issues (Invoking Justice);
Nine ordinary women trying to make ends meet and live with dignity in the oil- and violence-soaked Niger Delta (Daughters of the Niger Delta);
A small group of girls living in one of the most remote forests left on earth who are transformed by the experience of attending a radical high school where they learn to protect the threatened rainforest and build a new life for themselves (Daughters of the Forest);
Three women, including 2011 Peace Prize winner, Tawakkul Karman, who lead the women’s revolution in Yemen, in which women of all social classes and ages, formerly invisible, relentlessly fill the streets of the capital of Sanaa, defying the brutal government of Ali Abdullah Saleh (The Women’s Revolution of Yemen);
A group of rural Indian women, led by the energetic, charismatic, Sampat Pal, who travel long distances to fight for the rights of women and Dalits, known as the Gulabi (pink) Gang – for their pink saris;
A Naga woman’s personal story and its connection to the road that links Nagaland and Manipur, and the complexities of identity that are played out in violence along its length (This Road I Know);
And, the hardest one to watch, the riveting story of a family of survivors of the little known and much-denied Indonesian genocide of 1965 (The Look of Silence).