The Women’s Wing of FICCI, also known as FLO (FICCI Ladies Organization) launched the first edition of the FLO FILM FESTIVAL on Thursday. Showcasing over 30 films themed on women empowerment and gender sensitivity, the festival aims to change gender stereotypes and foster social change through the medium of film. As the oldest business chamber for women in South Asia, FLO has been working on its mission to economically empower women since the last 32 years.

The FLO Film Festival was launched in the presence of the Ms. Vinita Bimbhet, Sr. Vice President FLO, Mr. Mukesh Sharma Director-Films Division, Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra, Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Archana Garodia Gupta, National President, FLO and Actor Sonam Kapoor

Kapoor was present on the occasion to talk about her upcoming movie Neerja, which has a strong message on women empowerment.

The festival is the brainchild of Falguni Padode, Chairperson, FLO Mumbai Chapter. She said, “The intention of this festival is to give a platform to the huge amount of work that FLO is doing in terms of advocacy for women’s issues, creating entrepreneurial motivation amongst women, skilling and training women, and encouraging women to take up non-traditional roles. Through this event, we hope to further fuel the work of FLO.”

The festival has been spearheaded by Festival Director Rashmi Lamba – also a film maker and an FLO member, and strong support from individuals like Amruta Fadnavis, VP, Axis Bank and organizations like UN Women and Tata Institute of Social Sciences amongst others.

The films for the festival have been curated by Meenakshi Shedde and Prasad Khatu and centre around themes to inspire women empowerment, self esteem, skill development and social change. International features and documentaries, Indian films, student films from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Whistling Woods and many more will look at engaging and enthralling audiences.

“As per research, women played only 30.2 percent of all speaking roles or named characters in the 700 biggest Hollywood box office films from 2007 to 2014 and only 28 of those films were directed by women. We would like the FLO FILM FESTIVAL to influence filmmakers to portray first, more women on screen and then, portray them in varied and non-traditional roles as well. A script could easily have a woman cab driver, a woman security guard, a woman scientist, a woman manager, woven into the script without affecting the storyline in any way. Why can’t Indian cinema aspire to set new benchmarks for women representation?” asks Padode. “Imagine the impact this could have in terms of opening the mind to changing gender stereotypes and fostering social change, if reiterated again and again. After all, films in our country have great reach,” she adds.

On February 17, a Global Symposium was also held in conjunction with the festival by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, who have recently conducted a research on the role of women in Indian films and their socio-cultural impact. The institute also unveiled their first India report on the same day at ITC Grand Central.

The Festival and Symposium have strong support from UN WOMEN and ITVS — the largest Independent Television Service in the USA with programmes that are aired on PBS, POV, Independent Lens. In India their presentation Women and Girls Lead Global is being promoted across the country on Doordarshan.

During the Festival, experts and attending film makers will also have lively conversations and Q&A sessions with famous film bloggers, eminent magazine and newspaper editors after the film screenings.

On February 15 and 16, leading media and film institutes including Whistling Woods International, School of Media & Cultural Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Population First – Laadli and ITVS had organized interactive workshops covering an assortment of interesting topics ranging from ‘Unpacking the Media, Unpacking our Identities’, ‘Through the Gender Lens’ and ‘Changing the Story’.

Colors and Pond’s are associated with the festival, as are Drishyam Films and promoted by Radio One. It has a strong support from the film fraternity with luminaries like Nandita Das, Neeta Lulla, Manish Mundhra and Milan Luthria lending their support.

The advisory board for the spectacular event includes the crème-de-la-creme of the industry as well as global experts including Nandita Das, Actress, Director & Social Activist; Meghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International; Aruna Raje, Film Director & Editor; Mukesh Sharma, Director General, Films Division of India; Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors & Rishtey Viacom 18 Media; Neeta Lulla, Film & Fashion Designer; Rebecca Tavares, Representative, UN Women India; Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute; Mrs Amruta Fadnavis, VP, Axis Bank; Dr. Anjali Monteiro, Professor, TISS; and Malini Agarwal, Founder,

Close to 3,000 to 4,000 delegates are expected to attend the festival that looks at mobilising and inspiring the audiences to bring about a paradigm shift in their perception towards crucial female-centric issues in India and across the globe.