Films from the margins: Women, desire and the documentary film in India
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Sexuality and culture are inseparable forces. The diversity and complexity of sexuality in South Asian cultures have led to numerous crude caricatures and sexist stereotypes that find a continued existence in a postcolonial setting. Most visible of these caricatures are those that define women from these countries as repressed victims of sexless arranged marriages or as hypersexual inheritors of the Kamasutra. This project, Films from the Margins, will investigate the margins where renegade, intemperate, bad women 1 reside to reclaim hard fought rights to have the power to tell stories about themselves and offer a more honest representation of their lives and bodies. In this project, I interrogate how the subject position of the "postcolonial Indian woman" is articulated when we consider how sexuality is negotiated within the documentary film genre. The project will go beyond just a superficial reading of the above hypothesis to map out and analyze the sites of discontent, negotiations, representations and feminist thoughts that are constantly emerging and facilitating the shifts in the ways of looking at the Indian woman. For this purpose, the Documentary film genre offers up a visible site where social, cultural, political and temporal realities of Indian women are negotiated and contested. Aided by easier access to technology, female documentary filmmakers from within and without the country have claimed a colored subjectivity that actively disengages from and challenges a homogenizing mainstream mode of filmmaking. This conjuncture is what informs both the written and production components of this thesis project. 1 So named for their non-conformist ideas or actions.