Providing A Voice: Feminist Film Festival Dublin 2016
Now in its third year, Dublin’s own Feminist Film Festival has a simple mission: Promoting and celebrating women in film. Whether it’s the characters on the screen or the directors working behind it, women remain disproportionately represented, with a quick look at the festival’s own website revealing some very damning statistics. Taking place from Nov 18-20 at The New Theatre in Temple Bar, the Feminist Film Festival Dublin offers a voice for those who are too often drowned out or ignored in cinematic circles.
The theme of the 2016 festival is ‘Othered Voices’, with the films chosen for the festival’s programme representing the female voice in many forms.Whether it is the characters, the filmmakers or a particular point of view, each of the films provides a ‘voice’ to women in some way.
Friday 18 Nov
Mother Ireland and The Sea Between Us screen together at 1pm. In this documentary, the image of ‘Mother Ireland’, the kind of emotionally evocative image familiar to anyone who has ever flicked through an Irish history textbook, is used as a departure point for discussions of nationalism and feminism, featuring several well-known republicans and feminists. Irish women explore their relationahip with this ‘Irish version of the Virgin Mary’. (Dir. Anne Crilly, 1988, 53 min)
The Sea Between Us
Also a documentary, The Sea Between Us is concerned with very current and important subject matter. Filmed on the shores of the Mediterranean, it concerns people who are taking great risk seeking refuge, having left their homes behind. With women like this frequently reduced to dehumanised political scoring points, here they are given their own voice. (Dir. Caoimhe Butterly, 2016, 47 min.)
In 1994 Jane Campion became just the second women ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Currently there have been four, with Kathryn Bigelow the sole winner. Campion did win Best Adapted Screenplay for The Piano, which depicts a mute women’s arranged marriage in 19th century New Zealand. Non-verbal since birth, she finds expression via her prized piano. With well-regarded performances from Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin (also an Oscar winner at just eleven years old), The Piano remains a film capable of provoking conversation today. Screens at 3pm. (Dir. Jane Campion, 1993, 121 min+short)
Saturday 19 Nov
Margarita, with a Straw
Director Shonali Bose tells the story of Laila, an Indian teenager with cerebral palsy and a rebellious streak. Embarking on her education in New York, Laila finds herself exploring her sexuality and asserting her independence. It’s a coming-of-age story noteworthy for being the first Hindi film to get LGBTQ sex scenes past the strict censorship board of India. Sceeens at 12.30pm. (Dir. Shonali Balle, 2014, 100 min+short)
A number of short films, yet to be announced, will be shown at 3pm on Saturday, followed by a free talk at 5.30pm on Screening Women’s Voices by Dr. Jennifer O’Meara. Examining questions such as why women so rarely serve as voice-over narrators, if the ‘fast-talking dame’ died out with screwball comedies and if ‘The Bechdel Test’ is still a good way to measure female characters’ verbal representation, Dr. O’Meara’s talk will lool at modern and historical trends in the treatment of women’s voices in film.
Sunday 20 Nov
Regarding Susan Sontag
The life of writer and political activist Susan Sontag is narrated here by Patricia Clarkson, reading as Sontag herself via her books and journal entries.This documentary goes through her public and private life through her writing, personality, politics and bisexuality. This film will screen at 12pm. (Dir. Nancy Kates, 2014, 101 min+short)
Set in rural, highly conservative Turkey, Mustang sees five young sisters confined to their home. The girls are viewed as immoral and inappropriate and end up locked away, to be married off one by one all at young ages. An emotional and engrossing film featuring young women showing solidarity together as they try to reclaim their voices, agency and freedom. Mustang screens at 2.30pm. (Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015, 97 min+short)
The Seashell and the Clergyman
This film will screen at 5pm, followed by another short, Black Box. Feminist filmmaker Germaine Dulac was an integral part of the French avant garde movement of the 1920s. Her surrealist silent film depicts the hallucinations of a priest who lusts after the wife of a general and Dulac’s perspective shines through. The screening of The Seashell and the Clergyman will be accompanied by a live musical performance scoring the film. (Dir. Germaine Dulac, 1928, 40 min)
Standing as a contrast to the silent film that precedes it, Black Box stars counter-culture icon, ‘no wave’ singer Lydia Lunch. Put simply, the film sees a man tortured by his girlfriend and chucked into a box. A black one. Lunch narrates with “a vicious anger” and this artistic, experimental film provides eye-catching feminist visuals. (Dir. Beth B & Scott B, 1979, 21 min)
Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood
An Irish premiere at 6.30pm, Amaka’s Kin looks at women director’s experience in the prolific (and male dominated) Nigerian film industry, referred to as ‘Nollywood’. Dedicated to the late filmmaker Amaka Igwe, this short film uses interviews to highlight women working to make the mark in a male-dominated industry, something that should resonate for female filmmakers from all over the world. (Dir. Tope Oshin, 2016, 43 min)
The final film of the festival will be followed by a panel, ‘Othered Voices: Women’s Voices In Media Industries’. Tickets are available for the Feminist Film Festival now from tickets.ie and all profits from the festival will be going to the charity SASANE, ran by and for victims of sex trafficking in Nepal.