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The 22nd Flying Broom Film Festival in Ankara films, feminism & birthing and nurturing festivals

by NUPUR BASU

The 22nd Flying Broom Film Festival in Ankara, Turkey from May 22 to May 30 was a heady cocktail of cinema and feminism. With 141 films screening at the festival, film loving Turkish audiences flocked to the different festival venues to enjoy the rich fare of fiction, non-fiction and short films from Turkey and the rest of the world.

Film festival poster

The festival opened with a dazzling ceremony at the Ankara State Opera and Ballet Building.

During the opening night, awards were given for different segments, including the festival’s signature award titled - Witches Award!

A special award was also given to a Women’s Library and Information Centre – a journey started 28 years back by Turkish women with the motto – No document- no history. There were awards in different categories including those of veteran women actors.

The evening culminated with a musical performance by one of Turkey’s well known women singers who got a standing ovation from the packed state opera auditorium. The opening event set the tone for the enthusiastic response of the local audiences who had travelled from different parts of Turkey to Ankara to watch films at the festival over the next nine days.

IAWRT India Chapter was a special invitee and we showcased a special package of short films curated from its Asian Women’s Film Festival in Delhi in March 2019 which screened in a segment dedicated to IAWRT.

Asiya Zahoor’s The Stitch

Naro Longkumer’s The River Story

Tribeny Rai’s Chhori,

Armenian filmmaker Alik Tamar’s Antouni and Sri Lankan filmmaker Fauzia Fathima’s Hope.

IAWRT produced award-winning collaborative long documentary – Velvet Revolution – which has had successful screenings all over the world in the last two years, also screened to a large audience in the cinema Buyulu Fener Cinema in downtown Ankara.

IAWRT India Chapter Managing Trustee Nupur Basu receives a memento from the festival.

In the post film conversation with the audience, I highlighted the increasing attacks on journalists all over the world and in particular, threats and assassinations of women journalists who spoke truth to power.

Velvet Revolution also had a special resonance in Turkey where a large number of journalists and intellectuals have been incarcerated in prisons for asking difficult questions of those in power.

The Flying Broom Film Festival in Ankara had a special segment titled – “Five Continents – over a cup of coffee” which took the festival several notches higher. The Festival organisers who were themselves into their 22nd edition of their festival, brought together under one roof in Ankara, feminist film curators from around a dozen countries – Canada, Chile, France Germany, India, Lebanon, Morocco , Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and Uganda. This amazing assembly showed a growing trend across the world in curating stand-alone women only/feminist film festivals and the participants who had come from Barcelona, Bangalore, Berlin, Beirut, Istanbul/Ankara, Paris, Marseilles, Santiago, Stockholm and Toronto put their heads together to discuss the goal posts for such festivals in the future and to create networks to support them in the coming years.

IAWRT along with the other feminist festivals like Flying Broom, Femcine (Santiago) Female Eye (Toronto) Film Femme Mediterranee (Marseilles) and other festivals from Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Lebanon and others highlighted the work of women in cinema and stressed the need to build links and provide tools to filmmakers to develop their work. They all believed that networks like this would offer an excellent opportunity to bring women film fraternities together allowing us all to learn from each other’s substantial experience in the field of organising stand alone women’s film festivals .

Round table discussion

At a closed door round table under this segment Sunduz Hasar, one of the founding members of Flying Broom festival who was on the festival coordination committee, observed:

“We have kept growing in the last 22 years and this year we received a total of 1721 entries for the festival from which we had to pick 141”. Yet the government refused to fund the festival this year. Turning this challenge into an opportunity, the organisers reached out to women entrepreneurs who came forward to fund the festival making the feminist solidarity even higher in this year’s edition.

The most celebrated feminist festival founder who was in the Ankara festival was Ghaiss Jasser, who has been running the Cretei Film Festival in France for the last 42 years. It is the oldest feminist film festival in the world.

“ We found that many women directors disappear after their first or second film and we wanted to do something to stop this – from this the idea of the festival grew and we have been running it for the last four decades!” the soft spoken Jasser said.

The tremendous effort of the organisers at the Flying Broom festival in having brought together so many feminist film festival organisers was praised by all participants.

“The men are happy to always have a Boys Club, but the moment we try and create exclusive spaces for women, they try and question us – we celebrated the 15th edition of our IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival this year!” I observed.

This sentiment was echoed by others.

Karin Fornander, Founder, Berlin Feminist Film Week, recounted:

“When we wanted to start our feminist film festival six years back in Berlin we were told we were doomed as Berlin has too many festivals – but we weren’t doomed! We do films that screen gender stereotypes, on class, race, diversity, ”

Doris Saba, Beirut International Women’s Film festival, Lebanon said:

“Beirut is the jewel of the Mediterranean and we felt we needed a national wake- up call in Lebanon on gender issues and so we started our festival,”

Antonella Estevez from Femcine, Chile said they had been running the festival successfully for the last nine years.

“We wanted to start the festival because we were increasingly feeling that art and culture and cinema were for the elite and we wanted to end that – at our festival interestingly five per cent of the programming is done by men – because we want men to work with us but the leaders are all women!”

Leslie Anne Coles, Founder, Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto shared:

“Our festival’s slogan is – Always honest- not always pretty – and our festival films have to have a strong feminist script”

Everyone around the table agreed that it was very important to keep up the collaborations between the different stand-alone feminist festivals globally as it can benefit both the women filmmakers in different countries and in building solidarity on feminist issues through cinema in the coming years.

At another public facing event the feminist festival representatives had to set up their country stalls and speak to the public and audience members about their festival and what they hope to achieve in their countries through these women directors only festivals.

IAWRT had a publicity desk there as well. The public response was very enthusiastic to this event as well.

The Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival in Ankara, Turkey provided a much needed platform to women’s festival curators from different parts of the world to share why they do what they do despite the huge monetary and sponsorship challenges.

Their basis for their commitment was to create avenues to showcase the work of women directors and bring in new audiences who believed that films directed by women could be a powerful tool for reflection and social change.

On the closing night Iranian Director Mania Akbari, who has been away from her homeland, won the FIPRESCI award for best film for her brilliant autobiographical film - A moon for my father.

As Turkish songs of feminist solidarity sung by the festival team brought down the curtain on the 22nd edition of the Flying Broom Film Festival in Ankara, there was a quiet resolve among all – to keep faith in the solidarity of women filmmakers across the globe.

Film festivals group photo

Nupur Basu is the Managing Trustee of IAWRT Chapter India and the Executive Producer of Velvet Revolution who represented IAWRT at the Flying Broom Festival.

Created By
Lady Ann Salem
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Credits:

Photos from the 22nd Flying Broom Festival from Nupur Basu

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