Sonoma International Film Festival and MUSEA

Showcasing films by award-winning filmmaker Pratibha Parmar with special guest Alice Walker

Join us June 3 & 4, 2023
SONOMA, California at the Sebastiani Theater

AND if you can't come in person watch the films from anywhere in the world.
June 9, 10 and 11 Virtual

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Award-winning filmmaker Pratibha Parmar is joining MUSEA and The Sonoma International Film Festival for a series of specially curated films focusing on the arts, social justice, resistance, and friendship.
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Pratibha Parmar has spent her life creating films that make the invisible visible. With a focus on the arts centering women, social justice, resistance, friendship, and love. Parmar’s films evoke deep emotion and inspire action. For over three decades, Pratibha Parmar’s body of work includes landmark life-changing films; such as Warrior Marks and Beauty in Truth, both featuring Alice Walker, Queer South Asian films, Khush and Nina’s Heavenly Delights and revolutionary, iconic films like A Place of Rage, that features Angela Davis and June Jordan. Her most recent film is,  My Name Is Andrea, a stunning retelling of the story of Andrea Dworkin.

Parmar’s films are rooted in deep soulful storytelling, and they invite the viewer to enter into the visceral and the beautiful. How she accomplishes both to make accessible what is hard to hear and generate a desire to dive into the story is a wonder to those of us who are her avid fans. Some of us commit to seeing every single film. Her body of work includes feature films, narrative and non-fiction, experimental film and video, and episodic television. She is a true artist devoted to her craft.

Gathering In Mexico 2023

Jonathan, Shaheen Haq, Pratibha and Shiloh Sophia

Gathering In Georgia - Sue Hoya Sellars is right in the middle

Gathering before the premier of my name is Andrea at BAMFA in Berkeley

When I asked award-winning filmmaker Pratibha Parmar to identify just a few of the common threads running through her films over the past thirty years, she brought these two themes forward. The first one is making the invisible visible. The second one is her great appreciation for seeing how much her friendship with powerful change makers like Alice Walker, June Jordan, and Angela Davis has influenced the making and content of her films. For her entire careers Pratibha has been in creative collaboration with her long-standing life and business partner, Producer Shaheen Haq.

When I reflect on these motifs and think of what I know about her films, I have to smile warmly and nod yes in gratitude for what her films have brought into my life. Some of the films Pratibha has created, like A Place of Rage, Beauty in Truth,  Warrior Marks, and My Name is Andrea, have quite literally changed my life.  Each one of these films stands alone as a devotion to truth-telling. They show us what we haven’t been able to see before, with the kind of beauty that helps us to bear the unbearable hard truths, all the while inviting us to care more. To love more. To tell the truth more. 

Her films invite us to open our eyes to the reality of suffering from an honest and deep heartfelt place. While Pratibha’s films have plenty of calls to action, there’s something else here to witness, and I want everyone I know to witness it. The thread, for me, is that she conveys gentleness within the harsh reality, this is her as the artist - a storyteller of the human experience - woven with compassion and truth.  She honors  the human spirit’s ability to find dignity in conditions of suffering while always holding abusive systems accountable. There is an invitation. I said yes to this invitation in my early twenties. 

As I contemplate what her work has stirred for me, I feel myself responding to an invitation to a holistic consciousness that includes, provokes, and summons the parts of me that are most needed by a hurting world. When I think back to the night Warrior Marks opened in San Francisco’s Castro theater in (1983),  I can now see that the film had a before and after effect on my life. It is a documentary about female genital mutilation and features the Pulitzer Prize Award Winning author Alice Walker as the narrator. I had just moved out of San Francisco to the country to live with the Art Matriarch of our community, Sue Hoya Sellars. We were guests of Alice Walker’s, so we drove back into the city with excited anticipation for the film’s opening night. The intention to bring light to (FGM) and  to be with and explore the centuries-old ritualistic custom of female genital mutilation still being practiced throughout many parts of the world. A profound sense of devastation washed over me as I viewed the film, seeped in the richness of color, texture, and a sense of place. I quite literally felt that I was becoming a different person as I watched this transformative film. I woke up the next day, changed, and called to action. This movie and the women who were a part of making it happen have shaped my work with Intentional Creativity.

I have many stories I could tell of my personal encounter with Warrior Marks, but suffice it to say that this documentary sparked a vision that took hold and provoked me to take a stand for the change I wanted to see. This film turned out to be a seminal catalyst in my life. Shortly thereafter, Intentional Creativity presented itself to me through the teachings of my mentor, Sue Hoya Sellars. If you’re in my community, you’ll know the story of how this was the moment when I was wedging the clay, and Sue asked me what was the change I  wanted to see in the world. My response was, “to see the end of violence against women and children.” Sue instructed me to put that loving intention into the clay and to believe it was going out to the women. I felt love travel from me to every place I could imagine, including the women that Pratibha documented in this film. 

This is why the opportunity to share filmslike Warrior Marks with all of you is a very personally meaningful project. I think of it as a retrospective of some of her most powerful pieces and the visual archive of her unfolding evolution as an artist. We have had conversations about the Intentional Creativity that went into the making of these films and how they have shaped her life, as well as sowed the seeds for future projects. We are now bringing together a series of films to share with all of you.

We are overjoyed to collaborate with the Sonoma International Film Festival to create a festival that centers on women and honors Pratibha’s work. It is my deepest desire that having the opportunity to witness these films inside of a defined container in the order in which they were created will be as life-changing for you as they continue to be for me. 

Engaging with our unique festival will be soul-stirring, eye-opening, and action-packed. We look forward to being in deep, heart-centered, and intentional conversation with you.