1 JULY 2022 /
SONIA NEPRAM / FILM DIRECTOR /
“I feel ‘Bloody Phanek’ is a very personal and political film.
My attempt to tell the world that a piece of attire worn by women can become a language of protest for the women in Manipur has been very challenging.
I believe this film will strike a chord and give courage to the women resisting for justice in the conflict zones all over the globe,” says Sonia Nepram, eminent film maker.
‘A documentary film about Manipuri phanek, which is similar to a sarong, explores how this attire is used as a medium of protest, how it challenges masculinity and its inherent concept of impurity,’ the logline of the film elaborates.
The forty eight minute documentary film ‘Bloody Phanek’ explores the multidimensional facet of this cloth starting from the rituals of Manipuri life and later using ‘Phanek’ as an ultimate weapon to protest against socio-economic and political injustice.
“In ‘Bloody Phanek’, I started the journey by rationally analysing the dynamics of ‘Phanek’ starting from all the rituals to the patterns and motifs that are generally found in a phanek. Myths coexist with popular beliefs as I delve deeper and ‘Bloody Phanek’ aims to lay bare these underlying beliefs, reasons and everything that is related to the universe of a phanek,” says Sonia Nepram.
“I grew up in Manipur while conscious of the fact that phanek is our exclusive wear, which we ceremonially wore it—but unaware about the nuances that are associated with this attire. What’s more, it was not even clear what kinds of phanek are available for different occasions while being aware of the various available designs and types.
Then, once a question rose within me when my mother did not allow me to wash my phanek along with my brothers’ clothes when I was a little girl. I was also forbidden to hang a Phanek in the courtyard when my father was leaving for his office. It is considered inauspicious or equated to an evil spell that brings bad luck to a man. Besides, a Phanek has layers of expressions, other than how it is perceived so cruelly in a patriarchal society,” Sonia Nepram rationally analyses the dynamics of the belief and delve deeper into everything including the cultural and gender politics in the film.
She extensively planned this film with a global audience in mind and highlighted the issues like ‘untouchability and discriminations faced by women in the society.
The socio-political documentary, Bloody Phanek was premiered in South Korea at the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival in 2017.
The film received a special mention in Signs Festival Kerala 2018. It has also been included in several prestigious film festivals like South Asian Short Film Festival 2017 Kolkata, Kathmandu Mountain International Film Festival 2018, 5th Peloponnisos International documentary festival, Greece 2019, People’s Film Collective 2019 Kolkata, Vizantrop Festival 2019 , Serbia and Days of Ethnographic Cinema 2020 Moscow, 2020, Film South Asia festival Kathmandu and Ethnografilm Paris Film Festival, France.
Bloody Phanek is Sonia Nepram’s second film.
Sonia Nepram released her debut ‘Gun and a God’ in 2013 and tells the story of a former female insurgent, who found her voice in a gun and justice in a God. Gun and a God won the Jury Choice Award at the Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival.
Sonia had also made a student film, Limited Edition, which bagged several awards in university film festivals.
She is supported by the DMZ Docs Fund and has outreach support by Docedge Chandy Mathew Grant.
She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree from the Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh and she holds a postgraduate degree in mass communication from Mass Communication and Research Centre, JamiaMillia Islamia, New Delhi.