Bitchitra Collective Selects Seven Filmmakers for Inaugural Fellowship
Bitchitra Collective: Indian Women in Documentary announces their inaugural cohort for the Bitchitra Collective Film & Media Fellowship. The seven selected filmmakers are based in India and the US and of Indian heritage. Each will receive a grant of $2,000 for an ongoing short or feature-length documentary project, in addition to a year-long mentorship with an established filmmaker.
Bitchitra Collective was started at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to raise emergency funding to support audiovisual artists in India. Members of the collective include established filmmakers Nishtha Jain (Gulabi Gang, 2012), Mridu Chandra (Becoming Cousteau, 2021 and Ask the Sexpert, 2017), and film critic Poulomi Das. Since 2021, their activities have expanded to include solidarity statements, conversation series, and a member database in service of amplifying women and non-binary filmmakers. In support of this work, Bitchitra Collective was awarded a 2-year grant from Color Congress, a field-building granting organization founded by Sonya Childress and Sahar Driver (previously covered by Documentary here).
According to a press release, Fellowship jurors Sonali Gulati, Maheen Mirza, and Meenakshi Shedde issued the following statement: "The judges felt that it was an extremely competitive pool of applicants, and it was a difficult decision to arrive at the final 7. We wish everyone the very best with their projects and hope that these incredibly talented Indian women filmmakers find the support they need. Here’s to amplifying Brown women’s voices and denouncing censorship of any kind."
For more information on Bitchitra Collective and selected fellows, visit their official website.
The 2023 Bitchitra Collective Film & Media Fellows, their projects, and paired mentors are listed below.
Debalina Majumder is an award-winning independent Indian filmmaker and cinematographer, working on gender and queer sexuality issues in India. Her film "Joy Run" traveled to the 55th Berlin International Film Festival. Debalina has worked as a cinematographer for national and international documentaries and short films.
Citizen Nagar is the story of our times. It is about the struggle and resilience of people written out of our memories, our maps, our cities. It is a story of dispossession, of everyday resistance, of building and unbuilding homes, and our collective conscience. It is as much the story of "them" as it is about us who have pushed them there.
Mentor: Apoorva Bakshi
Muntaha Amin has a Masters in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia. She is interested in telling everyday stories of love, resilience and survival of Kashmiri Muslim Women that emerge from living in the worldʼs highest militarized zone.
Hamari Duniya Kuch Alag Si (English title: Our Worlds, So Different)
Two women take us with them on a journey of how public space feels to them while we watch men take up space and breathe the air of freedom on the streets, day and night.
Mentor: Sarvnik Kaur
Vinita Negi, a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, is an Indian independent filmmaker. Her diploma film "Cat Dog" as editor, won the Premier Prix at Cannes Cinefondation. She received a French government scholarship to study documentary filmmaking at La Femis Paris and was a participant in IDFAcademy in 2020.
Prabha, 85, a volunteer traffic controller and one of the first Indian female car rally drivers, wants to restore her vintage car Austin 7, 1934, and participate in one last car rally. Their unique six-decades-long relationship tells the story of a woman's eternal love for life, her refusal to lose agency over it, and her resolve to give it purpose even during its twilight.
Mentor: Mridu Chandra
Ashia Chacko Lance
Ashia is a US based filmmaker who has a masters degree from the Harvardʼs Graduate School of Education. Her original scripts were semi-finalists with Sundance Instituteʼs Labs, and she has received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation and the Chao Seat for the Harvardwood Sagansky Television Writers Program.
Homeless dogs are transformed into adoptable animals through the training efforts of prisoners.
Mentor: Sriyanka Ray
Nupur Agarwal, a Mumbai based filmmaker, was the Associate Director & Executive Producer on the national award winning film 'Borderlands'. She was one of the 42 filmmakers selected from India and Pakistan by the US Consulate for their cross-border initiative Kitnay Duur Kitnay Paas.
Battling the harsh geo-political backdrop of Kargil and shrinking winters in one of the remotest and most fragile regions of Indian Himalayas, two young teens Mehroon and Aqeela embark on a journey to play ice hockey for the national women's team.
Mentor: Hemal Trivedi
Teenaa Kaur Pasricha
Teenaa Kaur Pasricha is a National award-winning filmmaker, Screenwriter fellow from Asia Society NY 2015, and IVLP fellow on films for Social Change by US Consulate and Sundance. Her film 1984, When the Sun Didn’t Rise won the National Film Award in the Best Investigative Film category.
What If I Tell You?
As I was asked to keep silent about my Breast Cancer treatment, I decided to inquire if it is a stigma in Indian society, by filming the men I meet through dating apps. During this journey, I discover a relationship with my body, my emotional self and get closures to my quest.
Mentor: Irene Dhar Malik
Rajvi Desai, a non-binary South Asian filmmaker based in New York City, is a graduate from Columbia Journalism Schoolʼs Documentary Program. Her work focuses on issues at the intersection of race and gender, especially the experiences of Black and Brown queer people in society, in the criminal justice system and in the institution of commercial sports.
An ailing Black trans matriarch struggles to inculcate the values of education and survival in her community before she runs out of time.
Mentor: Sunita Prasad