Festival: Packed feature programme for the 2015 Feminist Film Festival, Oct 30- Nov 1

The Feminist Film Festival kicks off this year on Friday October 30th with a glass of wine in The New Theatre, followed by a feminist classic, a film by one of the most important and lauded female filmmakers of all time…

Set in Paris in the 1960s, Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7 paints a vivid portrait of two hours of a young singer’s life while she waits for the result of a biopsy. Although only the second film in Varda’s long and prolific career, Cléo established Varda as an important feminist film-maker, and the only woman in the boys’ club that was the French New Wave movement. With Cléo both preoccupied with her own appearance and frustrated that, as a woman, no-one will take her seriously, the film playfully highlights how easy it can be to internalise the expectations placed on women in a patriarchal society. This screening is kindly sponsored by the School of Communications at DCU.

This screening will be followed by a talk on a selection of women’s achievements in film by Dr. Jennifer O’Meara (Feminist Film Festival & Maynooth University).

The festival really kicks into gear on Halloween, October 31st.  Upon its release in 2014, Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook received rave reviews for its scary account of a storybook character who comes to life to disrupt the lives of a young widow and her son. Filled with symbolism, this psychological thriller is the perfect film to provide thrills and chills.

The screening will be followed by a talk on ‘Women in Horror’ by Dr. Paula Quigley (Head of Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin).

The Feminist Film Festival will host the Irish Premiere of Mary Dore’s She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a documentary charting the events of, and women behind, the U.S. women’s movement in the period 1966-1971. Through a combination of archival footage, interviews and dramatizations, the film captures the intense and inspiring stories of the women who, in fighting for their own rights, stirred an international revolution. Mary Dore will introduce her film to the Feminist Film Festival audience with a pre-recorded message, answering questions that have been sent in by fans in the weeks leading up to the event.

On Day 3, November 1st, the festival caters to younger women-in-film fans with Whip It, the heart-warming story of a young woman who refuses to conform to the world of American beauty pageants, and finds her fab femmo self by joining a radical roller-derby team. Starring Ellen Page, the film is Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut and, if ever there was a feel-good feminist film with a great message — one that people of all kinds and ages can enjoy — then this is it. As well as suiting older kids, Whip It is the perfect cure for that post-Halloween hang-over, and the kind of film that mams and dads will enjoy as much as their teens.

As the Short Film Triple Bill reflects, feminist films (like women themselves) come in all shapes and sizes. The selection begins with Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, an experimental classic made in 1943 which helped to establish avant-garde cinema in the U.S. This will be followed by Kara Blake’s The Delian Mode, a poetic ode to the electronic composer, Delia Derbyshire. While best-known for creating the theme music for Doctor Who, the short reveals how Derbyshire’s creative and technical skills allowed her to break into the male-dominated audio world of the 1960s. Last but not least is Ngozi Onwurah’s The Body Beautiful. This autobiographical short focuses on the changing bodies and bonds between a British mother dealing with breast cancer, and her daughter, a half-Nigerian model. Featuring Onwurah’s own mother, The Body Beautiful traces the female body in its various vulnerable, eroticised, and commodified forms.

The Triple Bill will be followed by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams’s remarkable documentary about the complexities of gender and sexuality in 1990s Japan. Shinjuku Boys focuses on a trio of onnabes; a term used to describe Japanese women who choose to live as men. The film combines candid interviews about sex and lesbianism with stirring sequences from the onnabes workplace: Tokyo’s New Marilyn Club, a space populated mostly by heterosexual women disenchanted with ‘real’ men.

The final screening of the 2015 Feminist Film Festival is a contemporary Irish classic about an indomitable woman: Lelia Doolan’s documentary Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey tells the story of Northern Irish socialist and political activist, Bernadette Devlin, who — at just twenty-one years old — became the youngest MP ever elected (in 1969). Doolan is one of Ireland’s most celebrated directors and the film perfectly reflects women’s abilities and achievements both behind and in front of the camera.

This year’s programme includes a range of short and feature-length documentaries and experimental films, as well as more mainstream fictional narratives. In order to reflect on the diverse range of feminist cinema represented, and the importance of recording women’s real-life experiences on-screen, the festival will close with a discussion on ‘Forms of Feminist Film: Fiction, Non-fiction, Experimental’ chaired by Professor Maria Pramaggiore (Head of Media Studies, Maynooth University). We are delighted to welcome a diverse panel of active filmmakers and academics: Dr. Maeve Connolly (Lecturer in Film and Animation, IADT), Lelia Doolan (director of Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey), Jesse Jones (filmmaker and visual artist), and Tess Motherway (documentary filmmaker and festival director at Dublin Doc Fest). This panel is kindly sponsored by the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University.

The Feminist Film Festival is a totally independent event and all profits from the festival will go to Sasane in Nepal, a non-profit charity organisation run by and for victims of sex trafficking who provide women with education, support and training. The Feminist Film Festival’s founder Karla Healion visited this charity in Nepal when travelling Asia recently and was blown away by this group of amazing women. No money will be taken for admin or processing from the profits, 100% will go to Sasane, who are supported and endorsed by international non-profit Planeterra. All fund-raising by the festival will be matched euro for euro by Planeterra.

Short film details will be announced prior to the festival. All screenings are subject to licence. Tickets are available online at: www.tickets.ie

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