Women are in the focus on film

A celebration of female film directors at Triskel Christchurch in Cork aims to shine the spotlight on the many women making independent and art house films in an industry that is predominantly male.

Deep Focus: Women in Film Festival will showcase 10 of the features, documentaries and short film festivals from around the world. The festival is the brainchild of Chris O’Neill, head of cinema at Triskel Christchurch.

“It is not only timely but also long overdue to be hosting a festival dedicated to female film makers,” says O’Neill.

The festival is programmed by O’Neill, Fiona Hegarty who works as a programmer with the Cork Film Festival, and Naoimh Ní Luanaigh, a film maker, who has selected shorts to be screened before the main films.

While Hollywood star, Jennifer Lawrence, has spoken out about the pay gap for actresses and research from the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University shows that in 2014, 85% of films had no female directors, the programmers of the Triskel Christchurch festival are focusing on the positive.

“For a festival like this, we looked at the programmes of major international film festivals like Berlin and Cannes,” says Hegarty. “We had a really good selection to pick from. It wasn’t a hard task to find films by female film makers. We had to make really hard choices. We stumbled upon a lot of really high quality documentaries. But we didn’t want the festival to become a documentary festival. We wanted features too. It wasn’t enough for us that a woman had made a film. It had to be of the same quality and variety as any other films shown at film festivals.”

Hegarty says: “There is a bit of a myth that if you go on to a film set, you won’t meet a woman. But there are so many women involved in making films. I’m not saying there isn’t an inequality there. But we’re trying to celebrate the women out there working in the industry. In the mainstream blockbusters, you don’t hear about women directing in that field but I think that independent cinema is much more supportive of women and is improving all the time.”

For Hegarty, the highlights of the festival include an essay documentary entitled Exotica, Erotica Inc, which had its premiere at the Berlinale Festival in Berlin last year.

This French film, made by Evangelie Kranioti “explores sailors at sea, industrial shipping, and women who’ve spent their lives working as prostitutes.”

A personal favourite of Hegarty’s is Hedi Schneider is Stuck directed by Sonja Heiss. “It’s a dark comedy drama about a woman who is suddenly struck with an anxiety disorder and the effect that has on her family.”

The festival’s closing night film is No Home Movie. “It’s directed by Chantal Akerman who’s up there with the greats of art house cinema. She died last year and this is her last film. It’s a documentary that explores the film maker’s relationship with her mother who was an Auschwitz survivor.”

Fans of Janis Joplin will be interested in the documentary Joplin: Little Girl Blue. “It deals with the inner clash between ambition and the ghosts we all have. It’s a warm and sympathetic film,” says Hegarty.

Colette Sheridan

  • Deep Focus: Women in Film Festival takes place at Triskel Christchurch from Friday to Sunday


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