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We Speak: On the Cinematic Representation of South Asian Women in Scotland

Bilgrami, Sana; Thambar, Niroshini


Niroshini Thambar


We Speak (Documentary Film, 6 minutes, 2022) is an audio-visual conversation between filmmaker Sana Bilgrami, and composer and musician Niroshini Thambar, about the experience of claiming space in a post-colonial world. The film reflects on the possibilities and boundaries of being South Asian female creative practitioners in Scotland. Using personal archive, music, voice and glimpses of domestic and other spaces, the film challenges the stereotypes that are consciously or unconsciously implicit in a country that struggles to rid itself of the vestiges of colonialism.

Inspired by Trinh T Minh-ha's assertions about the impossibility of representation1, the film adopts a deeply personal and reflexive methodological approach. There are no limits or particular shape to (self-)representation, and so the film can only be fragmented in its construction. We can speak with some certainty only about ourselves. The film is an accumulation of audio-visual fragments from the filmmakers' cultural and personal histories, interwoven with parts of a verbal conversation, to hint at the complexity of identity.

Sana Bilgrami was born in Pakistan and is a first-generation immigrant to the UK. Niroshini Thambar is a second-generation British Sri-Lankan, born in England. Both have made Scotland their home and have collaborated on projects in the past. This film is a practice-based response to RSE-funded research by Sana Bilgrami on the representation of South Asian women in Scottish cinema.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name MeCCSA 'Silenced Voices' September 2022
Start Date Sep 7, 2022
End Date Sep 9, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2023

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