Leena Yadav’s “Parched” has won the inaugural impact award at Stockholm Film Festival on Nov. 17.
The India-set feminist drama nabbed a cash grant of 1 million Skr ($120K) to help finance her upcoming projects.
The prize was announced by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who presided the Impact jury which comprised Swedish theatre director Linus Tunstrom and Iranian film director Ida Panahandeh (”Nahid”). During the presser, Weiwei also unveiled a sculpture that he created for the winner.
”Through superb acting, giving unique insight into the minds and hearts of women in rural India, told with colorful, sensual cinematography, this film is a paradoxical celebration of life, in spite of tough circumstances, creating both anger and joy, giving fuel for debate as well as hope for change when addressing a burning question that affects, not half, but the whole of our society,” stated the jury.
Unfolding in a rural village in Northwest India, “Parched” turns on Rani, a woman who is about to marry her 17-year-old son with a girl two years younger. The wedding doesn’t go as planned and when Rani’s prostitute friend comes to the village, everything falls apart.
Co-produced between India, the U.S. and The U.K., “Parched” deals with domestic violence and inequality within the Indian society. The movie world premiered at Toronto to warm reviews and marks Yadav’s third directorial outing.
Stockholm has collaborated with Weiwei, who is also a docu filmmaker, for the last two years. In 2013, he was tapped to serve on the jury but was forbidden by the Chinese government to leave the country. So the festival dedicated him a “Chair for Nonattendance.” Last year Weiwei designed for the festival two ice sculptures inspired by the lions guarding the Forbidden City in Beijing.
“Stockholm has always been in the frontline in choosing interesting films, aesthetically and socially, which is very important today,” said Weiwei.
Dedicated to “headstrong visionaries who reflect our contemporary world,”the Stockholm Impact section included six other films, notably Lisa Aschan’s “White People,” a sci-fi inspired drama thriller about power and hierarchies, Mexican Matias Meyer’s loosely set J.L.G. Lé Clézio adaptation “Yo,” Erik Matti’s ”Honor Thy Father” from the Philippines, Yuval Delshad’s “Baba Joon” from Israel; and Sterlin Harjo’s “Mekko” from the U.S.
The prize is made possible with the contribution of City of Stockholm.