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Here’s what horror enthusiasts can do this week in Mumbai


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Here’s what horror enthusiasts can do this week in Mumbai

India’s first horror, science fiction and fantasy film festival – the Wench Film Festival – kicked off on March 10. The festival aims to showcase work by BIWOC (Black, Indigenous, Women of Colour), LGBTQ+ women and non-binary filmmakers. It will run online until March 20, with physical screenings and workshops scheduled from March 17 to 19 in Mumbai.

The festival’s first edition in 2021, although still centred on women filmmakers, did not focus on horror. “In a land like India, where we are full of superstitions and rituals, I was amazed that there was no festival like this. So I took Wench in that direction last year.” Founder Sapna Moti Bhavnani told Springtide.

It was also purely online, given COVID-19 restrictions. The goal was to eventually bring it to a physical space. “Audiences in horror worldwide are very young. They range from 18 to 30 or 35, with the main audience being aged between 18 to 25. So it’s very exciting to be part of this and go physical with it.”

In addition to the exciting curation of films from around the world being showcased, the festival also boasts Anvita Dutt (director of Bulbbul and Qala) as the opening speaker on March 17 at Harkat Studios, Versova, a masterclass with Vikram Bhatt on March 18 at the same location and a special screening of the critically acclaimed film Tumbbad with actor Sohum Shah on March 19 at Veda Factory, Versova, among other notable workshops, panels and music performances.

For Sapna and the team behind Wench, the festival will always be indie at its core. The goal is to support filmmakers who have not yet made it to commercial platforms. “It’s very easy for big names to find platforms. But we want to showcase new talent – not by age, but in terms of filmmakers who have not found a voice or a platform for their work.”

“The problem is that in India, we haven’t really explored all genres of horror,” Sapna further added. “There are so many different ways you could make a film instead of the clichรฉ knee-jerk horror. The craft can really be explored and that’s what we plan on doing. This time around, we have an open pitch for people, which is my way of slowly starting a community. I hope by next year we can find new funding, tie up with amazing people internationally who have been big supports for us and try to create a great market for horror in India, therefore building the community around it.”

Tickets to the online screenings are available on FestivalSaints and on Insider for the offline screenings and panels.

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