As part of the 40th anniversary of women undergraduates arriving at Trinity, the College commissioned a film from Sonum Sumaria, co-founder of Guerrera Films and alumna.
It felt like a revolution premiered at a special College event on 28 April attended by alumni, current students, Fellows and staff – and the next Master of Trinity, Dame Sally Davies.
The film is an unusual initiative for Trinity: the Steering Group for the 40th anniversary managed the logistics and suggested various people to talk to and interview; Sonum conceived the narrative, conducted a raft of interviews, and edited the final cut.Sonum Sumaria
Featuring a range of perspectives from current students and Fellows to the first female undergraduates and Fellows who remember the fervent discussions in 1975 about admitting women, the 15-minute film offers a unique perspective.
From the vantage point of the woman behind the camera, Trinity had changed a lot since Sonum matriculated in 2008.
The College definitely seems more diverse in terms of social background and the students more political and independent. It’s still got a long way to go but I can definitely see a change and Trinity is heading in the right direction.
Sonum studied Modern and Medieval Languages and combined her growing interest in filmmaking with her Spanish and Russian studies, studying at an international film school in Cuba on her year abroad. She was encouraged by her Supervisors – Erica Segre and Professor Emma Widdis – and says the gender imbalance wasn’t something she noticed when studying at Trinity.
‘It must have been 30% women but I didn’t notice it at all. I was surrounded by inspiring women – my Supervisors, my friendship group and fellow linguists. I had plenty of women I could talk to if I needed advice or support.’
Recognising that her experience and positive memories of Trinity were subjective, Sonum sought out other perspectives for the film. ‘I was aware that I needed to speak to a wide range of women to get a more holistic overview of female experiences in College, and I’ve tried to reflect these realities and concerns, as well as my own, in the film.’
Not having thought much about how the College was run when she was a student, during the filmmaking Sonum was struck by the attitudes and efforts of Fellows to drive change.
I was delighted to meet so many progressive Fellows who genuinely care about making Trinity and more welcoming and inclusive space for all, and who are taking active steps to make that happen.
The film was well received by those attending the celebratory event in April and Sonum hopes it will help to demystify and diversify the College.
I hope the film will encourage students who might otherwise have thought that they would never get into Trinity or would not want to come here. I hope it shows that they can apply here and they would feel welcome. Trinity is so big and there’s so many people from different walks of life that anyone can feel comfortable here. It allows you to be who you are.
‘Most people at Trinity can definitely flourish – the College provides you with the resources you need to do that and also the people you meet here, whether students or Professors, they really love what they do, they are so smart and they really encourage you to pursue what you are interested in.’