Sultana’s Dream (2023) San Sebastián Film Festival 2023

September 23rd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Isabel Herguera | With the voices of Mary Beard, Miren Arrieta, Paul B Preciado, Roberto Bessi, Nausheen Javeed | Anime 80′

Fears of being a woman alone surface in this opening scenes of this ravishing animation that packs a potent punch in fluidly depicting life in a society ruled by men.

Isabel Herguera’s tale of female empowerment is a first feature for the San Sebastián-born filmmaker. Inspired by the exotic colours and sultry moods of the Indian subcontinent she bases her narrative on an avant-garde 1905 fable by a pioneering Bengali feminist writer Rokeya Hussein who imagines a utopian kingdom of Ladyland. Here, women call the shots in creating a harmonious society where they are educated and gain considerable agency while the men are locked away in purdah.

Set her timeline in the modern day Herguera’s glowing anime centres on Ines (Miren Arrieta), a young filmmaker who returns from India to Spain to seek career advice from her wheelchair-bound oceanographer mother who is a font of wisdom.

With its topical themes of politics, religious freedom, feminism and the environment Herguera’s well-paced and witty satire pokes subtle fun at the male-dominated society that still exists in India as Ines embarks on a peripatetic odyssey to realise her hopes and dreams in this visually captivating gem. MT


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