Grand Saline, Texas, a town east of Dallas, has a history of racism, a history the community doesn’t talk about.
Alka Raghuram is a filmmaker and a multidisciplinary artist who tells stories to make sense of the world and create moments of empathy. Her film Burqa Boxers was awarded a grant from the Locarno International Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production market in 2011.
In 2012, Raghuram created a photo, video and art installation based on the project at the Locarno Film Festival. In September 2014, she collaborated with dancers Pandit Chitresh Das (Indian, Kathak) and Antonio Hidalgo Paz (Flamenco) to create video vignettes for their performance Yatra (Journey) comprising of poetry, photography, painting and calligraphy about the historical connection between the two dance forms. The performance premiered at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Her fiction feature The Conqueror was invited to Berlin Talent Project Market and Tribeca All Access, where she was awarded the L’Oreal Woman of Worth Vision Filmmaker Award. Her short films Tired of Dancing, Panchali, and The Ant and The Monkey have screened at various festivals in the US and abroad. Panchali received the John Gutman award for innovation in cinema and was a regional finalist in the Student Academy Awards (2004). The Ant and The Monkey was nominated for the Princess Grace Award in 2005. Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries and Museums in New York.
In a culture where beauty, delicacy, refinement and submission are the prized traits to the ultimate feminine career fulfillment, marriage, young Muslim women in Kiddirpur, Kolkata, challenge stereotypes, learning boxing with Razia Shabnam, one of the first Indian women to become a boxing coach and an international referee. Burqa Boxers tells the story of Ajmira Khatoon, Taslima Khatoon, and Parveen Sajda as they train with Shabnam while negotiating poverty and tradition and learn to confront the biggest obstacle in their paths, fear. Fear of society, of family, of not fitting in, as they take the first baby steps on a journey towards an idea called empowerment.