With the emergence of caste-centric films in the mainstream Indian film industry in recent years and their notable success, we see the dawning of a new genre of film making—the Dalit Cinema.

Dalit Cinema is a newer vision and mode that underscores the importance of art and creativity in upholding human loving virtues and simultaneously standing guard against the social ills of bigotry and discrimination.

We aim to curate Dalit Cinema by hosting an International Dalit Film Festival in New York City on February 23 & 24, 2019 that will advance critical dialogues about the experiences of Dalits and other oppressed groups in the film industry.

Historically, the experiences of Dalits, erstwhile untouchables, and the lower castes (totaling over half a billion people) in films have been camouflaged by appropriating their voices into a caste-neutral narrative. Oft-repeated incidents of suppressing Dalit voices and Dalit assertion has maintained the cultural hegemony of dominating castes in India. Whenever Dalit characters are presented on screen, it is either to degrade the humanity of the Dalit or term them as despicable characters deserving humiliation. Such casteist gestures have worsened the quality of Dalit cultural life in India, pushing them down to the nadir of humane existence.

DALIFF’s aims are three-fold:

1. To expose to the world the nuances of Dalit life that are buried underneath the popular forms of artistic expressions.

2. To encourage a dialogue on the lack of representation and diversity in the Indian and South Asian film industry on the experiences of Dalit lives.

3. To create solidarity with other oppressed groups tied into a Fourth World project through the intervention of film and other forms of media.

We invite you to attend a day of festivity celebrating Dalit genius. Pioneering Dalit filmmakers Pa. Ranjith, Nagraj Manjule, Neeraj Ghaywan and former Femina Miss India Earth, Niharika Singh would be special guests to honor the Dalit Film Festival (DALIFF)

Date & Venue:

February 23, 2019 — Barnard College, Columbia University

February 24, 2019 — The New School, New York City

The first Dalit Film Festival (DALIFF) is dedicated to the memory of P. K. Rosy, the legendary first female actor of South India who was a victim of casteist social and cinematic sphere. P. K. Rosy, the pioneer of Indian feminist cinema died in penury, shunned by the public. It is to honor her inspiring legacy and courageous work that the Dalit Film Festival proudly asserts the art of Dalit Cinema and of Dalits in Cinema.