Kerala’s Women In Cinema Collective, a registered organisation for women working in Malayalam cinema, announced on Thursday that it is launching a film society based out of Kochi. The society is named after PK Rosy, who became Malayalam cinema’s first woman actor through JC Daniel’s silent film, Vigathakumaran (1928).
Rosy was born in 1903 in Thiruvananthapuram in a Dalit Christian household. That she was cast as a Nair woman in Vigathakumaran infuriated the Nair community men who vandalised the theatre where the film was supposed to screen, on the first day of its release. Rosy was attacked and forced to leave the region. Her whereabouts post this incident is unconfirmed. “This act of naming our film society a PK Rosy Film Society is a humble attempt to be sensitive and to take note of all those who have been excluded from dominant cinema histories through their gender, caste, religious or class locations and our own imagination, and have been brought to light by many a scholars, historians and activists,” said WCC in a press release on Thursday. The film society logo, which invokes PK Rosy, has been designed by Mumbai-based designer Zoya Riyas.
“The decision to form a film society was taken a year ago, at our last general body meeting. The film society will be officially inaugurated on September 15 in Kochi,” said Archana Padmini, actor, film curator and secretary of the film society. “Kerala State Chalachitra Academy will provide us with technical support, and (actor) Rima Kallingal’s Mamangam dance school will serve as the tentative screening venue,” she added.
The film society will be headed and run by an all-cis women/trans women panel, said WCC in the press note. “It is an endeavour from our side for establishing a viewing space for cinema, which has most often been an all-male space…We aim at showcasing, discussing and celebrating women filmmakers, women film professionals and feminist cinema aesthetics.We hope that the film society will also serve as a democratic platform that will enable discussions on cinema and, hopefully, contribute to a discourse on contemporary cinema aesthetics.”
WCC, which was formed in 2017 in the wake of an incident of sexual assault of an actor in Malayalam film industry, has been actively working on measures to create a healthy work atmosphere in the film industry and to open a conversation on gender inequality in the film industry and Kerala society. The organisation has, in the past, conducted a film festival, and workshops for women filmmakers and technicians.