Director Biography – Aastha Verma (THE LAST RIGHTS)

Aastha Verma is an award-winning Director and Producer based in Los Angeles, with roots from India and the Middle East.

Because of this multi-cultural background, she surrounds herself with stories that are built on ground reality and is a keen storyteller with female protagonists. Her vision is to bring out hidden realities of any given society, to tell stories which are entertaining yet heartfelt and produce films that the viewers can enjoy as well as learn from.

Striving to stand-out in an ever-growing new generation of filmmakers, Aastha works as a Film Director and Producer in Los Angeles at Saadhvish Films and operates offline out of Mumbai and Dubai (soon in Los Angeles).

Director Statement

When I was a child a family elder passed away, and I was asked to sit back home and wait for my parents to come home after the funeral processions and ceremonies. I questioned why, but I was apparently too young to know. When this happened again in my teenage years, I realized that there might be something more to it.

Recently, having become a woman and having a voice of my own, I began to explore this childhood question: why aren’t women allowed to give their dead the ritual funeral pyre – even if it is the dying wish of a parent or a grandparent? It turns out that if you are a woman, that’s enough of a reason for you to not be present there.

Coming from a modern-yet-culturally-driven household, our home had always been a place where whether a boy or girl, daughter or son had been treated equally – especially by our father. Hence, when I came across these stories where girls weren’t allowed to fulfill their father’s wish threw me off the tangent greatly and was unbelievable.

“The Last Rights” is a part of my over-arching goals as a story teller are to tell stories of women, and their struggle to get something which is their right but have to fight for it harder than necessary, and still some of it goes unnoticed and ignored. With a lot of research and understanding of the matter, I discovered that women have lost their lives just because they didn’t have a valid argument to make and stood their ground on doing the cremation ceremonies.

This movie is inspired by some personal events and my nearly accurate assumption of what goes on in the minds of the relatives after we return home for a certain reasons. It is about the beliefs of this young lady as a visitor at home to fulfill an emotional and moral responsibility versus the society and their beliefs, who has judged her for being an outsider.

My aim as the creator of “The Last Rights”, is not only to show our perspectives as Indians living out of India, but also to shed light on the social imbalance seen in India’s inherently male-favoring culture, so as to spark a discussion about the difference between religion and tradition, the latter of which contributes to the above-mentioned imbalance.

By femalefilmfestival

The irony of this festival is that its goal is to not be around in 5 years time. To eventually not be relevant because there is zero need to have a festival geared for female talent and female stories because the stories presented in Hollywood and around the world are a balanced showcase of the human experience from both sexes. Our goal is to achieve a lot of success and then fold into oblivion simply because there is no need for this festival. This festival was created by the FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival as a simple reaction to a strong need to showcase female talent from around the world in a more profound way. When putting together the weekly festival, the administration noticed a lack of a female presence in the stories being shown at the festival. A classic example and analogy to the frustration is how the festival noticed that even the smaller roles in a screenplay were written for a man to play. There was zero reason for this in many stories. How a police officer, or a political campaign manager, for example with 3-4 lines in a screenplay was a "HE" character. Why? And these are the screenplays written by the winners! The talented one who have obtained agents and have began/beginning their careers as a writer.

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