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The Dublin Feminist Film Festival celebrates female filmmakers, with the aim of inspiring and empowering more female involvement in filmmaking. The films screened at the festival consider women both on screen and behind it, showcasing stories told by and about women. For four years the festival has showcased great films by women from Ireland and abroad and involved women in film in discussions about their work, and the festival returns November 16 – 18 for a weekend of films that look to the future of women in cinema.

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Last year saw the Dublin Worker’s Film Festival join the ranks of the many film festivals taking place in Dublin that bring a varied selection of films of diverse and meaningful subject matter to audiences in the nation’s capital. Taking place on Pearse Street, the festival screened three films from the 60s, 80s, and 2010s that addressed issues of the working classes, and this year the festival expands, with a programme of 6 films this October. Whether you get up early enough in the morning for our Taoiseach’s liking we couldn’t possibly say, but you won’t have to be up at the crack of dawn for these films, which span just about 100 years and include some interesting sounding Q and As to boot.

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The theme for Feminist Film Festival Dublin 2016 was ‘Othered Voices’, exploring both literal and figurative female voices in film. Margarita With A Straw allows Laila, a zesty young woman who struggles with how others perceive her cerebral palsy, to find self-acceptance. The film was directed by Shonali Bose who based the story on both her cousin and aspects of her own coming-of-age, and this personal touch shines throughout.

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After tape traders in Nigeria decided to start shooting their own movies on (relatively cheap) videotape to keep their store shelves full, the output of the Nigerian film industry exploded. ‘Nollywood’ as it has been called is now second only to India in the number of films it puts out every year, ahead of even Hollywood, which simple can’t reboot Spider-Man often enough to match the amount of films Nigeria puts out every year. For Westerners, the volume of ‘Nollywood’ is one of the only things known about it, and as the industry continues to develop in Nigeria, it will be worth observing trends there and how they compare and contrast with those of America, or of our own film industry. The closing film of last weekend’s Feminist Film Festival Dublin, short documentary Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood provides one inportant perspective of Nigerian cinema, focusing on women working behind the camera in one of the world’s biggest hubs of film.

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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

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.)

The Piano

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)

Mustang

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)

Black Box

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.