Event showcases talents of women in film

Lit gave Batalibasi the opportunity to illustrate the feelings and experiences of South Sudanese Australians whose story often goes untold. Pictures: www.mwff.com.au

By EMILY BURKHARDT

Female filmmakers took centre stage over the weekend with the first Melbourne Women in Film Festival.

Audiences were able to get up close and personal with a number of leading female directors, producers, actors and writers through a series of screenings and interactive forums.

The main screening showcased several Australian films originally shown at the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival, and a series of contemporary experimental and art cinema works created by emerging local filmmakers.

The program aimed to be reminiscent of the 1975 festival, which showcased a diverse array of women’s perspectives and encouraged female empowerment through creativity.

Still Life (1974) used nude models for a drawing class to explore the female psyche.

Works such as Linda Blagg’s touching yet haunting Daddy Things (1974), Annette Blonski’s poignant and raw And Not Even Cry (1974) and Jeni Thornley and Dasha Ross’ raw and evocative film Still Life (1974) reflects on issues such as social isolation, abortion and alternative ways of viewing women’s bodies respectively.

Clare Ferra’s two films Progressive Evolution (2011) and Love Oscillation (2012) used a series of flashing technicolour images and shapes to present a more abstract yet refreshing view on the female physique and romantic perspective often not shown in the mainstream cinema scene.

Amie Batalibasi’s 2016 piece Lit was one of the most insightful films in the showcase. The emotional 15-minute film used a series of profound social media style status updates to explore the opinions and thoughts of a South Sudanese woman living in Australia.

But the festival stood out for its series of informative and insightful panel discussions during the two-day inaugural showcase.

The Festival gave intuitive pieces like Ferra’s Love Oscillation a chance to be seen by Melbourne audiences.

One panel presented a fascinating and insightful discourse on the role of women in screen culture, how this has evolved from the days of the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival and how it needs it could be improved.

Another panel discussed the rewards and challenges women face when trying to break into any part of the film industry. It covered topics such as gender, race and sexuality.

These sessions brought together generations of knowledge and experience to give audiences a snapshot of what creative contributions women make in film and how vital that is in maintaining a sense of equality in film creation and distribution.

This festival also offered local filmmakers an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding a lack of major association funding at both the state and national level, and how women are continuing to break into corporate hierarchies typically dominated by men.

This showcase celebrated the achievements of passionate local female filmmakers and held great importance for continuing to ensure female voices are heard in the broader film community.