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 .
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.