Student Film

Sultana's Dream

Isabel Herguera
Original title : El Sueño de la Sultana
Spain Country: 
Germany Country: 
Year: 2023
Dialogue Language: 
Spanish Dialogue Language: 
Basque Dialogue Language: 
English Dialogue Language: 
Hindi Dialogue Language: 
Subtitle language: English
Length: 90 min.

"In Ladyland you will not see men on the streets. We shut our men indoors! Isn't that sweet?"

Envision a land where men - deemed a violent liability - are locked up and where women govern with an ethos of genuine harmony. This is exactly what Bengali writer Begum Rokeya Hossain imagined in her utopian feminist parable Sultana's Dream in 1905, a cornerstone of utopian fiction and ecofeminism. Hossain's seminal work was a defiance of traditional male-dominated storytelling and still serves as a beacon of empowerment for women worldwide. Inspired by the Muslim pioneer's fiction and life, director Isabel Herguera spent a decade making her feature debut, a fascination labour of love that celebrates a cultural legacy, but also serves as an intriguing gateway into the framework of feminist theory and discourse.

Like Herguera herself, Inés is an animation director in search of inspiration when she suddenly stumbles upon Sultana's Dream in a bookshop in India. Fascinated by her discovery of this transgressive tale, Inés embarks on a journey across the country to learn more about Hossain and the place of women in the world of yesterday and today.

Through Herguera's lens, the film becomes more than a mere adaptation, evolving into a multifaceted exploration of womanhood and feminism as Inés travels to several destinations, including her father's Italian Bollywood movie sets. Sultana's Dream unfolds as a breathtaking triptych, with Inés' contemporary journey depicted through digital figures against hand-painted watercolour backdrops, while a musical retelling of Hossain's life emerges through cut-out animation. However, the most enchanting animation technique is perhaps found in the imaginative voyage to Ladyland, where Herguera employs the art of Mehndi, a variation of henna. Ultimately, Herguera's passion project is a philosophical piece of cinema, featuring real-life luminaries like gender theorist Paul B. Preciado and British academic Mary Beard, whose insights strengthens the film's profound engagement with gender dynamics, literature, and new perspectives.


Saturday 06 April 2024
12:00 Slachtstraat Cinema 2

Sunday 07 April 2024
19:00 Slachtstraat Cinema 2

Saturday 13 April 2024
15:30 Eye Cinema 1