The Feminist Film Festival Dublin has officially launched their programme for the 2016 Festival, including the Irish premiere of Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood, a screening of the film that inspired Beyoncé, Daughter of the Dust, on its 25th birthday, as well as a free talk and panel discussion, a director Q&A, Oscar winner The Piano, a live music score, and many Irish and international short films. Now in its third year, the Feminist Film Festival Dublin aims to counteract the mis/under-representation of women behind and in front of the camera. The festival runs Friday November 18th to Sunday 20th at The New Theatre, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
This year the celebration of women in film focuses on the theme ‘Othered Voices’, with a programme of films capturing the female voice in its many forms. Historically little attention has been paid to women’s voices on-screen and commentary often stresses the need for women in the industry to ‘speak up’. The continued impact of Laura Mulvey’s 1975 analysis of the visual objectification of women in cinema (‘the male gaze’) has distracted from their vocal and verbal representation. Our programme addresses this, highlighting women’s literal and figurative voices, including interpretations of ‘the voice’ as a character’s, or the filmmaker’s, or a particular point of view.
The FFFD festival is an independent event run by volunteers, and ALL profits from the festival go to Sasane in Nepal, a non-profit charity organisation run by and for victims of sex trafficking. Sasane provides women with education, support and training. The Feminist Film Festival’s founder Karla Healion visited this charity in Nepal when travelling in Asia and was blown away by this group of amazing women, who not only survived horrific experiences of sex trafficking and violence but have now set up this organisation that supports other women who need help. The women of Sasane are positive, warm, strong, and smart people who so genuinely deserve our support. We hope to raise as much money as possible for these incredible women, and have donated all profits to them since the FFF Dublin began.
Speaking about the festival founder Karla Healion said:
We hope to help counteract the under-representation of women in film. This means we will support and promote films that women have played a vital role in making to help inspire others to get involved in filmmaking and production. We would also like to counteract the misrepresentation of women through stereotypical female characters. And, of course, we would also like to also bring the perspectives, stories and experiences of women, feminists and women-identified people to a wider audience through film at an inclusive and friendly event. The whole event is also, of course, a fundraiser for a fantastic and inspiring charity called Sasane that does incredible work in Nepal with victims of sex trafficking and gender violence. Using an event like this to raise money means that we can celebrate women’s rights and female empowerment transnationally and remind ourselves that gender equality is still not quite a reality.
FILMS AND SPECIAL EVENTS:
FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER
13:00: Mother Ireland (Anne Crilly, 1988. 53min) and The Sea Between Us (Caoimhe Butterly, 2016. 47min) €10
‘Mother Ireland’ is a familiar image, often depicted as ‘an Irish version of the Virgin Mary’. This documentary uses the depiction as departure point for a discussion of nationalism and feminism, featuring a number of well known republicans and feminists. Mother Ireland gives a voice to this mute icon, by allowing Irish women to verbally express their relationship with the imagery.
In contrast, The Sea Between Us, filmed on the shores of the Mediterranean, features those who have left their homes behind and are embarking on dangerous journeys in search of refuge. A timely and important film that gives a platform to some remarkable voices, while subtly challenging reductionist stereotypes.
15:00: The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993. 121min) [& short] €10
In its depiction of a mute woman’s arranged marriage in mid-19th century New Zealand, Jane Campion’s The Piano raises questions not just about the representation of women’s voices, but also about how best to represent other marginalised groups. Though the film received some criticism for its presentation of the Maori people, the central character’s withholding of her voice, and use of music as an alternative to speech, provides one of the most remarkable treatments of the female voice on screen.
SATURDAY 19TH NOVEMBER
12:30: Margarita, with a Straw (Shonali Bose, 2014. 100min) [& short] €10
Margarita, with a Straw focuses on Laila, a rebellious Indian teenager with cerebral palsy trying to find her independence. As well as representing a young woman with a speech disorder, the film departs from typical coming-of-age movies due to its own radical agenda: Margarita is one of the first Hindi films to get LGBTQ sex scenes past a strict board of censors.
15:00: Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood (Tope Oshin, 2016. 43min) + Q&A with director Tope Oshin [& short] €10
Amaka’s Kin looks at the experiences of female directors working in the hugely prolific and male-dominated Nigerian film industry, known as ‘Nollywood’. Dedicated to the memory and successes of the late filmmaker Amaka Igwe, who famously said ‘Nollywood is a global movement’, the film uses interviews to chart the work of the women striving to make their mark in a man’s world.
17.30: FREE TALK: Screening Women’s Voices (Dr Jennifer O’Meara)
Why do women rarely serve as voice-over narrators? Did the empowered ‘fast-talking dame’ die out with the screwball comedy? And is ‘The Bechdel Test’ really a good way to measure female characters’ verbal representation? This talk will consider these and other questions, looking at historical and contemporary trends in the treatment of the female voice in cinema.
SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER
12:00: Regarding Susan Sontag (Nancy Kates, 2014. 101min) [& short] €10
Regarding Susan Sontag provides rich insights into the life of one of the most influential and outspoken critical thinkers of the 20th century. Patricia Clarkson narrates, reading as Sontag from her books and journal entries. This documentary charts Sontag’s public and private life through her writing, politics, personality and bisexuality. Incredible archive footage and wonderful narration establish an original and poetic tone fitting for its subject.
14:30: Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015. 97 min) [& short] €10
What happens when women are denied a voice? Deniz Gamze Ergüven explores this question in multi-award winning ‘feminist escape movie’ Mustang. Beautifully shot and exceptionally performed, the Oscar-nominated tale (writer/director Ergüven’s debut), tells the story of five sisters punished for ‘immoral’ behaviour in rural Turkey. A voice-over by the youngest sister frames this rousing portrayal in terms of solidarity and empowerment.
17:00: The Seashell and The Clergyman (with live score) (Germaine Dulac, 1928. 40min) and Black Box (Beth B & Scott B, 1979. 21min) [& short] €10
An early feminist filmmaker, Germaine Dulac was an integral part of the ’20s French avant garde movement. Women’s voices are felt from behind the camera, as well as in front of it, and The Seashell and the Clergyman – a silent film dealing with male obsession through a surrealist and experimental form – speaks volumes of the director’s point of view. The live film score contributes a fresh and real-time voice to this 1928 masterpiece.
The Seashell and the Clergyman is paired with a classic of recent feminist counter-culture, starring artistic icon of our time Lydia Lunch. In opposition to Dulac’s silent films, Lunch speaks ad nauseum in Black Box and narrates with a vicious anger, a voice of resistance and resilience. Artistic film occupies a special place within feminist visual culture and this double bill gives a taste of something other than the ubiquitous mainstream narrative.
18:30: Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991. 112min) [& short] and ‘Othered Voices:Women’s Voices in Media Industries’ Panel Discussion €10
Our final film celebrates the 25th anniversary of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, the first feature directed by an African American woman to receive wide theatrical release. Dash uses dialect and song to render the memory of the Gullah community, a colony of former slaves compelled to migrate to mainland America at the turn of the twentieth century. The unconventional narrator – an unborn child – powerfully captures the impact of migration on family relationships and cultural heritage. The film’s iconic stature and topical resonance was apparent this year when pop star Beyoncé referenced Dash’s mesmerizing imagery in her visual album Lemonade. The film will be followed by a panel discussion.