Featured Female Filmmakers – Part 31

Using Creative Platforms To Spread Awareness Of Social Injustice

This blog began as a university assignment about using social media where the class was tasked to maintain a blog and social media pages dedicated to a social issue we wanted to raise awareness about. As I was studying film at the time I chose the gender imbalance present within the Australian film industry. The funny thing was that I didn’t grade very well for the assignment, but continuing the blog post graduating has provided a platform where I have been able to increase awareness about female filmmakers and the things that stand in the way of their inclusion in such a gender biased industry.

This weeks featured filmmaker, Kalpana Kumar, also has a passion for raising awareness about social issues. Her film Laskhmi – Untold Truths was shot entirely in India and seeks to open eyes to the sexual assault and abuse of women within Indian society, specifically the cases that don’t necessarily make it to the news. “There was a recent case of rape and homicide that was so brutal it made global headlines.” Kalpana explained, “Reading about that case led me to several others. Many of them buried in the news and not sensational enough to garner attention. It was also not just about rape, there were so many issues that women face which were rooted in our culture and social norms.”

The film attempts to highlight the many hurdles a girl born in India faces in her life through brief scenes episodic in nature all shot in a realistic style.

Being a first time filmmaker with an all male crew provided certain hurdles for Kalpana in terms of maintaining confidence. “Initially, I was very nervous and was not comfortable dealing with them, but as I was spending more time, I found them all very professional. Thanks to Trend Setter productions for making this journey possible without any hindrance.” She said, “Despite that, I had one or two people outside of the production team speaking disrespectfully and make disparaging comments, undermining my skills. But my focus and goal of completing the project pushed me forward ignoring the few negative incidents.”

Originally from Michigan, Kalpana returned from India with a shot film ready to enter post-production when the Coronavirus pandemic shook the world. “Offices were closed, travel became impossible and added to the complexity around finishing the film.” Kalpana explained, “I had to change portions of my script, re-film some shots here and re-edit and complete the musical score. I was fortunate to find an excellent editor in Damien Mcfarland. While the project experienced several delays, my objective was to complete the film by April, which I did.”

With a completed film the next step was to reach an audience. “I was able to meet the deadlines for a few film festivals that would be appropriate for a short film with a social message, educational as opposed to a commercial one.” Kalapana said, “My plans are to provide this film to organisations that help women and NGOs that may use it for social awareness campaigns. A copy will be sent to UN WOMEN and the Govt of India.” Once the film has completed it’s festival circuit run it will be available to watch on YouTube and for updates you can follow Kalpana’s facebook here.

Film is only an extension of Kalpana’s existing passion for telling stories that have a wider meaning or important message. “As a mother, I told stories to my children, many that just popped in my head. All my stories tended to have a larger meaning or message, unintentionally, but they did.” She said, “As life went by, I came to realise, film as a medium was a wonderful canvas where I could bring my stories to life, my imagination into reality.”

Her next feature film The Innocence Project is currently in the pre-production phase making Laskhmi – Untold Truths only the first of Kalpana’s film projects to take her desire to raise awareness of social injustice issues into the world. “The saying ‘If you are already empowered, empower others’ resonates with me.” She stated, “I feel I am at a stage where I can, in my own small way, do something to help those that are in need. Highlighting social justice issues provides a springboard to them. Stories that are unsaid become movements and I hope I can spark the change that helps all those helpless, young girls career professionals and older women who experience this pain.


FACEBOOK – @Kalpanakumarofficial

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