U.S. Consulate Sponsors “Women’s Safety and Empowerment” Short Film Festival Finale

U.S. Consul General Tom Vajda welcomes actor Rajeev Khandelwal to the second short film festival in support of women’s safety and empowerment. The festival was held at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai.

Mumbai:  This evening the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai hosted the finale to its second short film festival in support of women’s safety.  The “Women’s Safety and Empowerment” film festival coincides with the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence” UN global campaign, which lasts from November 25 until December 10.

The grand prize-winning short film was Silence the Violence, the second-place winner was Kasturi, and third place was given to the filmI’m Not a Woman.  An audience-selected “People’s Choice Prize” was presented for the film Cover Up.  In addition, WIFT India provided a prize to the best female director, whose film Cover Up was selected by the judges.

A panel of judges including Girl Rising producer Martha Adams, filmmaker Vibha Bakshi, actor Rajeev Khandelwal, and U.S. Consulate General Mumbai Public Affairs Officer Philip Roskamp selected the winning films.  In addition to the judges’ selections, attendees at the event also voted for a People’s Choice winner.

In his opening remarks, U.S. Consulate’s Consul General Tom Vajda stated, “Gender-based violence is not limited to any single location or group of people.  Sadly, it is a problem globally, and that is why it is so important that we unite to speak out against it.  As those of us who are fans of both Hollywood and Bollywood movies know, film is a powerful storytelling medium.  Movies can inform us, they can inspire us, and they can change us.  And this is why the Consulate has partnered with Women in Film and Television to organize the “Women’s Safety and Empowerment” film festival.  I hope it is a useful platform for content creators and activists to raise awareness and make a difference in the world.”

Celebrity judge Adams also offered her perspective, “Gender violence is a universal problem.  It is prevalent in all parts of the world – Mumbai, Los Angeles or Paris. We must be united in our efforts to put a stop to this problem.  This film festival gives us the opportunity to witness the personal stories of courageous men and women who have spoken against violence.  It inspires us to take action.”

The short films screened and judged at the festival were shortlisted from a larger pool of entries crowdsourced from interested Indian nationals residing in the U.S. Consulate General’s consular district, which includes the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.  The Consulate received nearly 50 crowdsourced entries.  The Consulate partnered with Women in Film and Television (WIFT) India to hold the festival and finale event.

This was the second time the Consulate organized a crowdsourced short film contest and festival in support of women’s safety and empowerment.

The contest videos will be available online soon through the Consulate’s YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/usconsulatemumbai