Aug 1, 2013

3rd August 2013; LEENA MANIMEKALI 's Mathamma & Goddesses

Mathamma & Goddesses
Two documentary films by
3rd August; 6 pm.  Perks Mini Theater

Mathamma (2003)
16  minute documentary capturing a peculiar practice of devoting the girl children to the deity of the folks of Arundhatiyar community in Mangattucheri village near Arokonam, Chennai. Mathamma triggered a successful video participatory movement, which demanded the immediate government intervention, securing protection to women who were exploited in the name of "culture". Film braved against the defamation cases filed by few political outfits alleging it as a disgrace to the community's pride and traditions and facilitated as a tool for advocacy by gender and women rights movements.
Women in Director's Chair Film Festival, Chicago, 2004, World Socialist Youth Forum, Venezuala, 2005, CDIT National Video Film Festival, Trivandrum, 2003, Kolkata International Film festival, 2004
Goddesses (2008)
Notes from the lives of three extra ordinary women – a funeral singer; a fisherwoman; a graveyard workerHere is the story of three ordinary women who live extra ordinary lives surviving darkest of times and gone against society's norms to live and work according to the rules they have set for themselves.
Lakshmi, a professional 'funeral singer': She visits death houses with a troop of drummers and for a measly pay, she wails and laments and shares the grief of the other mourners. The throb of the drums and her ankle bells resonate in the house long after she has left.

Krishnaveni, the ‘grave-digger’: Dead unknown earn her the daily meal. Veni accepts unclaimed bodies from the local Police and gives them a decent burial or cremation, digging and maintaining the graves herself.
Sethuraku, the ‘fisherwoman’: What is normally considered as taboo for women is confidently done by this lady. She goes out to sea, every morning with a few fellow fisherwomen to collect fish and prawns, singing to welcome the day.

Nominated for Horizon Award, Munich International Film festival, 2008,
 IAWRT International Documentary Film Competition, Women Building Peace, Nairobi, Kenya 2007,
Jury Award,
 John Abraham National Awards for Cinema Of Resistance, SIGNS 2007, Trivandrum, Kerala.
Best Documentary, National Competition,
 One Billion Eyes Documentary Film Festival 2008
Official Selection, International Competition,
 Tri Continental Film Festival, South Africa 2008
Official Selection, International Factual Competition,
 Roma Fiction Film Festival, Rome, 2008
Official Selection, National Competition,
 International Video Film Festival of Kerala, 2008
 Asia Pacific Awards, Brisbane, Australia, 2008
Official Selection,
 Birds Eye View Film Festival, London, March 2009
Official Selection,
 Belgrade Documentary Film Festival, May 2009


Leena Manimekalai

Leena Manimekalai is an independant Filmmaker,Poet and actor based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She has nine documentary films and a feature film to her credits. She has acted in several of her movies and has published three anthologies of poems. She is also a much acclaimed street theatre artist. Kanavupattarai is her publication house through which she has published 25 titles on world cinema and literature.
Leena was born in Maharajapuram, Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, India. She lost her father Prof.Dr. R. Raghupathy at a very early age and was brought up by her mother Rama. She attended Kamaraj University, where she obtained a graduate degree in engineering.
In her quest to contribute and raring to go, she has penetrated her land, state and nationwide, screening her films in more than thousand and odd forums and spaces.Women Movements, Mass Movements, Dalit Movements, Grassroot NGO's, Civil Rights Societies, Educational Institutions, Film Societies, Film Festivals etc. across the states have showed her films initiating a participatory dialogue and interventions.And she is able to relate across the line and cadre with humility and modesty having had the privilege of invitation screenings in international platforms and conferences across United States, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, South Africa, Kenya, Finland, Venezuela, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Belgrade etc..
 After a brief period as an apprentice Director with mainstream filmmakers and an extensive experience as a Television Producer and Anchor, she debuted in 2001 with the short documentary film Mathamma.  Her other films too deal with the issues of the marginalized. Parai is a film on violence against Dalit women. She is road with her films across thousands of villages serving her videos a tool for participatory dialogue with the masses on compelling issues.Break the Shackles is about the effects of globalisation on rural Tamil villages. Love Lost is about changing relationships in urban space.  Leena was inspired to do this project while she was serving as a volunteer in tsunami-hit regions of Tamil Nadu doing art therapy workshops for children. Altar is a documentary intervention on child marriage customs prevailing in the Kambalathu Naicker community in the central parts of Tamil Nadu. Goddesses follows the lives of three extraordinary women who go against norms to succeed in usually male-oriented careers: a fisherwoman, a gravedigger and a funeral singer. A Hole In The Bucket takes a look at the dynamics of water crisis in the city of Chennai in the context of families with different income levels. A Hole in the Bucket was showcased at International Water Symposium, Stockholm, 2007.
Her first feature film Sengadal completed production in 2011. The film shows how the ethnic war in Sri Lanka had affected the lives of fishermen in Dhanushkodi. The censor board has initially refused clearance certificate to the film, stating that it made denigrating political remarks about the governments of Sri Lanka and India, and uses unparliamentary words.She had appealed to the Appellate Tribunal authorities and contested the case legally for several months and finally got it cleared by July 2011 without any cuts.

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