8th - 14th March 2018


Payal Sethi - 2016 India - 27 min

Raisa lives with her Ammi and three younger sisters in Hyderabad’s Old City. When Ammi promises her 13-year old daughter, Zainab, in marriage to a foreign businessman, Raisa decides to save her little sister at any cost.

In an old custom that has found new roots among poor families in Muslim ghettos, rich patrons pay for an arrangement brokered by efficient agents, while a pliant cleric draws up both marriage and divorce contracts simultaneously, so that the businessman is free to end the sham union whenever he is ready to leave the city.

Desperate to find a way out for Zainab, Raisa hatches a dangerous and improbable plan involving an archaic remedy that claims to restore a girl’s virginity.

Watch the trailer:

Director: Payal Sethi

PAYAL SETHI studied film production & history at Vassar College and the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. Post-graduation, she worked as the production and development executive at filmmaker Mira Nair’s Mirabai Films on award-winning films, such as 'Monsoon Wedding', 'Vanity Fair', and 'The Namesake.'

After a stint as assistant director on Karan Johar's 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna,’ she switched roles and served as a screenplay programmer & industry manager for the Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Indian Film Festival of New York and Independent Feature Project. She then revamped the Sloan Foundation’s artist support program at Tribeca into the TFI SLoan Filmmaker Fund, which she ran for two years.

In 2008, she joined forces with longtime colleague Pooja Kohli to launch FilmKaravan, a unique film distribution and production company. While marketing and distributing South Asian content for a U.S audience, her role at FilmKaravan also included developing & packaging scripts for international co-productions.

After 10+ years of working in the industry, Payal decided to embark upon her own creative journey and made her directorial debut with the short film 'Grant St. Shaving Co.' Her debut film won the best film award at The Smalls Film Festival & Florence River to River Film Festival and went on to secure distribution in several territories, including Turkey, Japan, the USA & U.K. Her second film as writer, director & producer, ‘Leeches,’ will premiere at the 46th Tampere Film Festival in Finland in March 2016.

Payal was recently awarded Asia Society’s New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters for her original screenplay, ‘Panther,’ a wildlife crime thriller set in Ranthambore & Delhi. She lives in Bangalore, India and is currently working on her first feature film, ‘Ooty Queen.’