The latest film festival to come straight to our computers and tablets is Rising Gardens. The online event has been organised by Sangat and the Kriti Film Club to mark the One Billion Rising’s South Asia Campaign. The selection has been curated by eminent editor and filmmaker Reena Mohan.

The films will be streamed between January and April. The January package, which is available until January 18, is titled ‘Cosmic Connections’ and is organised around the theme of women and nature. The films are available for free on the website

“The ongoing pandemic has disrupted our lives, caused chaos and shown us that our existing structures are unjust and unsustainable,” Reena Mohan said in a curatorial note. “Has the isolation we experienced affected our thinking and practices? Did the pandemic compel us to slow down, and consider how to live with more empathy and compassion in relation to the environment?”

The films are “stories of courage, compassion and hope, with women in the fore, engaged in either environmental or agricultural work or presenting a significant connection to nature”, she added.

The animated films include Kshipra Shekhar Dhavle’s Amepa, set in the Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh and exploring the threat to the environmental balance through the tale of a mischievous gibbon.

Kshipra Shekhar Dhavle’s Amepa. Courtesy National Institute of Design.

In Blue Whales, Sri Lankan director Irushi Tennekoon uses claymation to talk about what it means to be a woman scientist. Another claymation film from Sri Lanka is Irushi Tennekoon’s Sybil Wettasinghe on the Umbrella Thief, about the inspiration for the stories and drawings by the filmmaker’s grandmother.

Nina Sabnani’s Hum Chitra Banate Hain is a collaboration between the filmmaker and Bhil artist Sher Singh. The animated film on a Bhil myth about the origin of painting has been voiced by Raghuvir Yadav.

Balaram J’s Oru Thudakathinte Kadha looks at the triumph of harmony and innocence among children despite differences.

The live action documentaries are led by the acclaimed The Shepherdess of the Glaciers. Stanzin Dorjai Gya and Christiane Mordelet provide a portrait of a Himalayan shepherdess and her herd of over 300 cashmere goats and sheep. Between bantering with her animals and musing on the harshness of the beautiful but forbidding landscape, Tsering is always full of surprises.

The Shepherdess of the Glaciers (2017).

Prasuna Dongol’s Dolpa Diary from Nepal follows a solo woman trekker battling perception and the elements. In Glow Worm in a Jungle, Ramana Dumpala meets Hema Sane, a botany professor who has created her own electricity-free jungle oasis in Pune.

In Maja Novakovic’s Then Comes The Evening, two women discuss their relationship with the elements. Spirit, by Jane Dyson and Ross Harrison, profiles Saraswati and her ties with her village, her environment and local folk traditions. In Water Flows Together, Palmer Morse, Matt Mikkelsena and Taylor Graham meet Colleen Cooley, a Navajo river guide who offers an indigenous perspective on river management.

Dolpa Diary (2019).