‘Bloody Phanek’ All Set for World Premiere in South Korea

A documentary film by Sonia Nepram, ‘Bloody Phanek’, which explores the sociopolitical and cultural perspectives of Manipuri women’s phanek or sarong, will be premiered at the upcoming DMZ International Documentary Film Festival in South Korea

Imphal, Sep 20: Sonia Nepram’s ‘Bloody Phanek’ is ready to hit the big screen this month during the 9th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival 2017, which will be held at Gyeonggi-do in South Korea from 20 to 28 September.

‘Bloody Phanek’ is a film on phanek, the exclusive attire similar to a sarong, which is worn by Manipuri women in northeastern India bordering Myanmar. It blends the personal and the political. The film explores the inherent concept of impurity in a phanek while examining how it is used as a medium of protest and challenges masculinity.

Organised under the theme of ‘Peace, Life, Communication’, the festival features 114 films from 42 countries. The 52-minute ‘Bloody Phanek’ has been selected in the Global Vision Section (World Premiere category) of the festival. Sonia will also be attending the premieres in Goyang and Paju. It will be screened on September 26th (7pm local time, Megabox Paju Bookcity 1) and 28th (5pm local time, Megabox Baekseok 2) at the festival. More information is available on one of the pages of the festival:

I  September 26 (7pm, Megabox Paju Bookcity)
II September 28 (5pm, Megabox Baekseok)

Produced and directed by Sonia Nepram under the banner of Yelhoumee Pictures, ‘Bloody Phanek’ started with a pitching programme in 2014 at the Manipur State Film Development Society (formerly Manipur Film Development Council) held under the aegis of the Docedge Kolkata and the Television and Cine Foundation, Manipur. It was further pitched at the Docedge Kolkata, Asian Forum for Documentary, where the Mumbai-based Filament Pictures offered the Chandy Mathew Grant for outreach support for the film.  Then, in 2015, it was invited to pitch at the DMZ Docs Fund South Korea where ‘Bloody Phanek’ received the support grants.

‘Bloody Phanek’, her first feature length documentary film, is Sonia Nepram’s second work. Her debut film ‘Gun and a God’ (watch it on YouTube) that was released online in 2013 had won the Jury’s Choice Award at the Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival (MWIFF).

PS: I am honoured to be part of the Bloody Phanek team with my name credited for Creative Art Design and Subtitle. 

And I just saw how the film title is written in Korean: 상영작 안내

Check out the press kit of the film!

Sonia Nepram
Director’s Statement

Phanek is an exclusive wear of Manipuri women. It is the mark of identity, which serves more than the purpose of simple clothing. This cloth carries an infinite symbolism revolving around both sexes. For instance, when people leave home, they carry a piece of their mothers’ phanek, using it as a token of protection and well-being. As it exists in other societies, this attire for women has a unique global appeal with its beauty; and similar to other cultures around the world, certain socio-cultural norms dictate how women wear a phanek.

Historical records show that strict codes of conduct were imposed on Manipuri women to adorn only the phanek with specific designs, colours and even the draping style, depending on occasions or occupations. Breaking these codes could lead the wearer to excommunication. Also the belief of ill-health and misfortune that could befall on the wearer is still prevalent today. In olden days, kings wore shirts made of phanek when they went to a battle with the belief that they would return victorious! Nothing is, however, mentioned about how it is impure and it can be used as a tool of protest. 

Customarily, men are forbidden to touch a woman’s phanek, especially the used pieces. It is unimaginable for men to touch it. In popular culture, films and dramas portray how men would cringe when they are close to a phanek, regardless of the fact that it is literally an indispensable object throughout a lifetime.

In Manipur, women have always been at the forefront in any social and political issue. Phanek is significant again, which is evident both from the wearers as well as from the manners they use it for such symbolic use like blocking roads. However, back in their homes, they cannot keep their phanek together with their husbands’ clothes. In a conservative society, this is seemingly natural yet intriguing.

‘Bloody Phanek’ aims to discover how Manipuri women use phanek as a medium of protest, while it explores the concept of impurity and how this attire challenges masculinity.

Stills from the film (Courtesy: Yelhoumee Pictures):

For more information:

Yelhoumee Pictures

Uripok Haobam Dewan Leikai, Imphal West 795001
Contact +91 385-2412235 / +91-89744-73306



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