Students, parents, and faculty engaged in an animated discussion over women’s rights and changing family and social relationships as part of the “Documentary Screening and Discussion ” meeting on October 21, 2023. This followed the screening of P. A. Haneena’s ‘And I Call Him My Father’, and Dr, Fathima Nizaruddin ‘s “My Mothers’ Daughter”, short documentaries which featured the personal stories of the directors. Prof. Jameela Begum introduced the discussion, by comparing the films to stories by other authors and offering her perspectives on “feminism” versus “womanism”. About 70 people participated in the event including students from St. Xavier’s College, Thumba, and Iqbal College Peringammala. Fathima Nizarruddins ‘My Mother’s Daughter’ begins as an exploration of the lives of great-grandmothers who were strong matriarchs in a Muslim family in Kerala. But soon enough, cracks from the present creeps into the stories of the past. The volatile relationship between the filmmaker and her mother leads to many arguments that raise questions about the choices made by different generations of women in the community. During the discussion, a comment from a student resonated with the audience: “The movie made me think of my grandmother, who lived life on her terms. This film encourages women and girls to make their decisions independently and live life on their own terms.” Fathima responded, emphasizing the importance of personal choice and the autonomy to make decisions free from external influence.
Haneena’s And I Call Him My Father is the journey of Muthafa, father of the documentary maker who has been restoring a piece of degraded mining land tucked away in a village of Kerala into a Greenland of his mind. The land then witnessed substantial changes. Six years later, his daughter retraces the steps of his journey to develop the land.
Through the lens of personal stories presented in the documentaries, the audience was compelled to reflect on their own experiences and contemplate the broader societal implications. As discussions like these continue, they contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding gender, and the importance of embracing diverse narratives in our collective journey toward a more equitable and inclusive future.