A Look at the Female Eye Film Festival by Angela Combs

Guest Post: A Look at the Female Eye Film Festival by Angela Combs

by Women & Hollywood on 06 ఏప్రిల్ 2010 ‌న 06:14 ‌క

The Eighth Annual Female Eye Film Festival took place in Toronto from March 24-28, 2010. This intimate festival, that is devoted exclusively to films directed by women, presented a unique opportunity to enjoy touching, gritty, complicated and sublime female film-making, and to spend quality time with an inspiring group of powerful, successful, and creative women with strong, vital voices.

The films presented a wide variety of themes that ultimately circled around the complicated process of forming healthy female identity amidst the cultural and societal challenges we all face. If there was a central theme to be found, it was that women have a lot to say and they will say it in a variety of ways. This resonates particularly in the year of the first female directed Oscar win, in an unexpected genre with a strong female eye.

My stand-outs from the festival included: “Mall Girls”, by Katarzyna Roslaniec, which examines the degenerating effects of capitalism and raunch-culture on the psyche of young girls in modern Poland. The film opens jarringly with a 13-year-old giving a blow job to a boy in the local mall in return for a pair of jeans.

Crackie” by Sherry White is a meditation on the repeating cycle of teen pregnancy and abuse in three generations of sexually exploited women, set among the bleak landfills and breathtaking seascapes of Newfoundland.

How Eunice Got Her Baby” by Ana Valine (winner, Best Short Film) is a poignant and stunning cinematic tale of how a wallflower girl ends up inheriting the love-child of her Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque wild-living sister who is shot in the heart by her outlaw lover.

16 to Life” by Becky Smith (winner, Best Foreign Feature) is a touching comedy about healthy sexual curiosity in a Middle American lakeside resort town, as lifelong best friends explore their options for the future and discover that their own divergent points of view are a powerful strength in their friendship.

I was delighted to receive the Best Debut Feature Award for my own film, “Nothing Special”, a coming of age tale about a young woman at a crucial turning point in her career and her relationship with her bipolar mother, played by the great Karen Black, who won Best Actress for her stunning performance.

Alongside the movie presentations, the Female Eye hosted a round of stimulating discussions in a variety of forums that were at once encouraging and sobering. Topics covered included the state of the market; career advancement; “female filmmakers and success”. In addition was a “Best In The Biz” tribute to the formidable Kit Redmond, CEO of RTR Media Inc, which examined the trajectory of a truly successful career on both a commercial and artistic level. The program concluded with a masterclass with Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”, “Lords of Dogtown”, “Twilight”), who very generously invited us to explore her process, with encouraging exhortations to be forever diligent, prepared and pay unstinting attention to detail. The consensus among the panel discussions was that women must strive for excellence and accrue successes in exponential ratios to their male counterparts, in order to realize more financial backing and more artistic freedom in their careers. Nothing new there, since we’ve always had to do twice a much to be thought half as good.

Despite the facts, which clearly suggest that women are as skilled and profitable in their film making endeavors as their male counterparts, we still have a long way to go, baby. But, if energy and enthusiasm can be measured, I’m sure it was off the charts in Toronto, as the women involved brought an encouraging perspective to the discussion regarding the male dominated business of film making and the road more or less traveled.