Pioneering gender equality in cinema.
Vision & Mission
Equal spaces and equal opportunities for women in cinema.
WCC works towards building a safe, non-discriminatory and professional workspace for women in cinema through advocacy and policy change.
WCC encourages more women to be a part of the industry through outreach initiatives for career advancement opportunities, industry support, and mentorship opportunities for its members.
WCC showcases the creative acumen of women by curating films and bodies of work by women.
WCC seeks to create awareness about gender bias and exploitation faced by women in film industry, both onscreen and off-screen.
WCC promotes responsible filmmaking practices accelerating the work culture transformations required for a gender-just film industry and cinema.
In 2017, an established actress was subjected to a heinous incident of sexual assault in Kochi and she courageously spoke up for justice. A collective of eighteen women from the Malayalam film industry started to come together to stand by this Survivor.
The entire episode and ensuing reactions reaffirmed the stronghold of patriarchal beliefs in the film industry highlighting the challenges faced by survivors in their course of pursuing justice. Spanning multiple generations and film disciplines, this group met up with the Chief Minister of Kerala to draw government attention on the gender-discriminatory values and unsafe practices that are rife in the film industry. Thus the Women in Cinema Collective, the first of its kind, came into existence.
On November 1st 2017 Women in Cinema Collective Foundation was registered as a Society. In the first two years, Women in Cinema Collective has maintained a special focus on dealing with sexual harassment within the industry.
To serve the same WCC followed a four pronged approach by:
Drawing the attention of Government to endemic issues faced by women in this industry.
Conducting Research & Study of the legal provisions that protect gender equality and the rights of women.
Vigorously championing the same with industry bodies.
Keeping the cause of the Survivor alive in media.
Now WCC has grown from being a support group to a strong platform where untold experiences of women in cinema have found voice, and are being heard.
True to the collective spirit, WCC as an organisation works primarily in a lateral structure. Every member contributes their time and talent to the organisation with a volunteer spirit.
As a governance body, all founders form a managing committee that commits to the long term vision and mission of WCC.
From among them volunteers have come together to form teams that handle overall day-to-day management, policy generation, consultation and creation of organisational systems. In an evolving system, these volunteer teams commit to work for a minimum term of 6 months each. Values of transparency and democracy and given priority and healthy discussions and debates are encouraged. Larger impact decisions are put to open vote among all members and majority opinion is sought for implementation.
Members who are unable to volunteer due to their deep involvement in work projects, step back for the term allowing others to step into active roles. New members are encouraged to work alongside existing teams as an orientation process into the working of the organisation.
The Lateral Structure
A daily work team handles the responsibilities of the general management & systems & outreach.
A communications team monitors all communications from the organisation.
A legal research team engages with experts and conducts study of legal perspectives on the workplace rights for women.
Independent project teams run specific projects like the Best Practices Manual Project, The Counselling Network Project, The Industry Database project, The Industry Compliance Project etc.
WCC came together at an incredibly powerful moment when women within the industry gathered to collectively support the Survivor after the shocking assault on her in Kochi.
Exactly 3 months from the incident, WCC met and submitted a written appeal to the Chief Minister, Government of Kerala to address the situation with urgency and effectiveness and this was met with a prompt assurance from the Chief Minister stating that a study would be commissioned to study the issues face by women in the Malayalam film industry and the government would act on the recommendations of the official study. Article
Receiving immense support and attention from the public and the media WCC was able to point to the large gap between constitutional rights of women workers and unfair film industry practices that are not in keeping with the law. The movement reinforced the importance of national dialogue on safe and equal working environment for women.
The Govt. Of Kerala constituted the Justice K Hema Commission in which senior actress Sharada and retired IAS officer KV Valsalakumari are also members, to study the status of women in the Malayalam Film Industry and provide recommendations and best practices to mitigate difficulties going forward. Article
The #Avalkoppam campaign was created to accord respect and dignity to the Survivor’s journey in pursuing justice and it was taken up by the public with great vigour. It was launched by Former Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan at Thiruvananthapuram with a signature campaign. The event was organised by WCC, NWMI & Sthree Kootayma Since then #Avalkoppam hashtag has become synonymous for solidarity with any survivor who speaks up for justice. It was quoted for the nuns who spoke up, the #MeToo revelations, Nayanthara’s incident and similar contexts. Article
At the State Awards the #Avalkoppam campaign gathered further solidarity as the public participated with great enthusiasm on the signature campaign. The support was further strengthened by the speech and performance by WCC members Vidhu Vincent & Rima Kallingal reiterating their stance in support of the Survivor. Article
The international #MeToo movement which erupted after this drove home the point that WCC was making in Kerala, thereby giving further impetus to the cause.
Seven-point terms of reference (ToR) issued for the Justice K Hema Commission panel that also comprises former bureaucrat K.B. Valsala Kumari and yesteryear actor Sarada, the commission would have to explore the options for improving women’s safety, security, a better salary package, service conditions, and creation of a conducive working environment. Article
At the International Film Festival of Kerala, the Women in Cinema Collective stall was inaugurated by Director Aparna Sen. Ms.Sen and many delegates endorsed their support on the #Avalkkoppam boards displayed at the stall expressing solidarity with Survivors. Article
In the IFFK open forum session WCC held an open discussion about misogyny on screen. Several perspectives were put forth by all participants before a live audience. Among them Actress Parvathy quoted a film and a character within the film played by a superstar as severely misogynistic. In the following days, the actress was heavily trolled online and threatened with dire consequences including rape and death by alleged fans. Organised dislike campaigns were unleashed online to discredit Parvathy’s films as well as WCC. The whole episode revealed the heavy unwarranted abuse that women are subjected to online. However Parvathy lodged 15+ police complaints with the cyber police for the threats issued to her, resulting in the Kerala police arresting the offenders. Article 1 Article 2
FEFKA constituted the first women’s wing for an industry body and reserved seats for women on its executive body. The Chairperson Bhagyalakshmi stated that the need for women issues to be addressed within the film industry. WCC applauded the move as the first step that all industry organisations should follow. Article
The first year of WCC was marked with the launch of “Punarvaayana” - a forum for analysis and discussion of cinema through screenings of classic and contemporary cinema. At the well-attended events in Kochi & Thiruvananthapuram Mirch Masala was screened and followed by a discussion regarding gender aspects of the film. Article
After a detailed discussion with WCC, Smt.KK Shailaja, the Minister of Women & Child Development issued a statement that ICCs at workplaces are mandatory as per law and the State Government would legally explore the option of establishing them on film sets. Article
When the Survivor’s Industry Association A.M.M.A decided to reinstate one of the alleged Accused as a key member of the same Association, WCC condemned the action and posed 7 questions about the unfair and unethical act. As a mark of protest, in an unprecedented move, the Survivor and in solidarity with her 3 WCC members Geethu Mohandas, Remya Nambissan & Rima Kallingal resigned from the Association with a public statement citing reasons for the same. Article
Kerala Women’s Commission & Former Chief Minister V.S.Achuthanandan criticised the reinstatement move by A.M.M.A and lauded the resignation by the 4 members. Article
WCC members Padmapriya, Parvathy & Revathy (who are members of the A.M.M.A) wrote to the Association seeking an emergency meeting with the Executive Committee to have a dialogue about: “1. The expelled member's reinstatement & the implications of AMMA's decision. 2. The steps taken by AMMA to support the survivor. 3. How AMMAs bye-laws are structured to ensure welfare of all its members. 4. What AMMA can do to make women feel more included and safe.” Article
178 women working in the film industry across the country, including Nandita Das, Renuka Shahane and Leena Manimekalai had issued a statement condemning AMMA’s decision. Article
Network of women in Media strongly condemns A.M.M.A ’s reinstatement move and stands in solidarity with WCC. Article
14 women artistes announce solidarity with WCC and condemn A.M.M.A’s reinstatement move with public statement about why they refuse to join the Association. Article
A.M.M.A Executive Committee respond agreeing to conduct an emergency Executive Committee meeting on August 7th on the behest of the 3 members who have publicly requested the same. Article
Preceding the A.M.M.A meeting was a thorough study of the bye-laws of the organisation, precedents and legal ramifications by the three members & WCC. At the high visibility discussion meeting these were presented by Padmapriya, Parvathy & Revathy to the A.M.M.A Executive Committee. The members put forth suggestions for gender inclusivity and safety and offered to help implement them as well. A press conference was conducted by the Executive Committee promising results at the end of the meeting but no remedial decision or action was taken by the Association. Article
The Kerala floods derailed the discussion as the State was grappling with the calamity. WCC members worked independently and with groups like Anbodu Kochi, Goonj, District administrations of Kochi, Kozhikode, Pathanamthitta, Wynad to resource relief and aid distribution to relief camps. Members also visited camps to interact with children and the elderly affected by the floods. Article
WCC and Mamangam dance company in association with Minimal cinema showcased nine films by nine women filmmakers, curated by Archana Padmini. Following it acclaimed Writer KR Meera led a meaningful discussion about the changing language and patterns of the cinema of today. Article
Taking cognisance of A.M.M.A’s continued apathy to the Survivor and the 6 women members, despite all efforts made, WCC held a press conference where the members revealed their experiences within the Association and the oppressive values that they had been subjected to. This calling out also witnessed additional revelations by others about how other industry associations dealt with sexual harassment complaints by hushing up victims and protecting perpetrators. Article
NWMI issued a regret letter to WCC for the insensitive manner is which their media colleagues had behaved at the press conference held by WCC. Article
A member of a trade union against whom such a complaint has been lodged continued to work within the industry but after this was exposed on a WCC forum, under severe media glare the trade union quickly reinforced the ban on the said member. Article
A.M.M.A. announces that Alleged Accused Dileep has resigned from A.M.M.A. WCC welcomed the news but with a note that an opportunity to establish a good precedent of action by the industry body had been missed. Article
Aashiq Abu announced through Facebook that his production company OPM, co-owned by wife Rima Kallingal, will have an ICC for every movie it produces. OPM is the first to take such a step in the Malayalam Film Industry. Article
Divya Gopinath made a public #MeToo revelation about the sexual harassment she had been subjected to by character actor Alencier Ley Lopez. Her story was corroborated by the director and assistant directors of the film’s unit. WCC expressed solidarity and support to her. Article
WCC filed two Public Interest Litigations at the High Court of Kerala, Ernakulam drawing attention of the industry bodies the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, Kerala Film producers Association, A.M.M.A., F.E.F.K.A , M.A.C.T.A , Kerala Film Distributors Association, Central Board of Film Certification and State of Kerala to the need to comply to the Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment Act 2013 and be accountable for the actions of their members and towards making the film industry a legally compliant space. Article
WCC was invited for multiple interaction sessions at the prestigious MAMI Film Festival including a dedicated session about “the Power of the Collective”. MAMI & Oxfam India present a gender equality award every year to encourage gender balanced portrayals in cinema. WCC members were on jury panels for MAMI in 2018. Article 1 Article 2
The Best Practices Manual Project is signed up with WCC in collaboration with Sakhi supported from the US Consulate (Chennai). A core group chaired by Bina Paul & Ammu Joseph was formed to explore how such a manual could be generated through conferences and discussions among women practitioners of the crafts in the film industry.
In the Annual Budget, the Government of Kerala made an allocation of Rs.3 crore to women in cinema. The details of the allocation are awaited but this is a significant and unprecedented action of support and solidarity by the Government of Kerala. Article
Kochi Muziris Biennale presented a curated set of films showcasing the works of Women Professionals who form the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) Article
A public apology through media was made by Alencier Ley Lopez to Divya Gopinath for the harassment that he had subjected her to. The industry body he was member of had to take cognisance of this matter. Article
WCC expressed solidarity with Nayantara’s protest and applauded Nadigar Sangam’s action against Radha Ravi for his misogynistic statements about her. WCC lauded Nayantara’s demand for ICCs within the Tamil Film Industry to address such issues. Article
WCC was invited to participate in the Anveshi Gender conference discussing gender roles in film at Hyderabad. WCC participated in similar outreach events at TKM College of Engineering, Department of English, Kerala University, Flame University Pune etc.