Top Women’s Film Festivals

Women’s film festivals aim to provide a true perception of women, whether they are victorious or defeated. With an industry that is dominated by males, these film festivals have turned into a global project by, for and about women.

The criteria I used to select these top film festivals are similar to those that could be used for general film festivals. The one defining quality is that the festival, in fact, promotes what it actually is. Women’s film festivals began due to the lack of female voice within the film industry. To combat this hindrance, their own film festival was designed.

If women’s film festivals don’t promote the issue that women aren’t in the industry, no one will listen and nothing will change. Individuals involved have the opportunity to call attention to the fact that, while just as many women may be going into film studies and other forms of film education, men still dominate the field. These festivals are attended by individuals who are likely to be the most sensitive and passionate about the issue. If you can’t make them care, no one will.

I’d also like to applaud broadening efforts that most of these festivals are making. They have acknowledged more than just the suppression that women face, and now work to challenge many other discriminatory disputes. It’s no longer feminist banter to promote more women in the film industry. Women film festivals are facilitating new perspectives against other minority populations as well.

 

Women’s International Film & Arts Festival – Starting in 2005, the Women’s International Film Festival only presented five films. More recently, bigger names have been in attendance including Alley Sheedy from Breakfast Club. It has also attained some large U.S. Corporate sponsors such as American Express, Miami Herald, Comcast, NBC and Bacardi. Expanding their relations and reputation even more, WIFF has developed partnerships with Paramount Studios, Mega TV, MTV Films, and held workshops with representatives from PBS, The History Channel, ACTRA, The Discovery Channel, Mega TV, the Directors Guild, and more. These growing partnerships with national and international entities continue the ongoing mission to promote women and film on an even broader scheme.

 

Moondance International Film Festival – This festival stays true to their original goal to present films and writing which successfully raise awareness about a variety of vital social issues. Besides their feminist initiatives, other objectives include educating writers, filmmakers, and film festival audiences, and inspiring them to take action upon this knowledge. Moondance uses this entertainment media to stimulate social and environmental change. Having initially started to widen the knowledge of the hardships women face, as the festival has matured, it has also expanded the social issues it promotes.

 

Women’s International Film Festival in Seoul – The festival contributes to the development of women’s positive values and plays an essential role establishing a network between Asian and the other countries. WFFIS provides ways to promote and exhibit Korean women’s films abroad by discovering and supporting women in film industry. It also helps Korean film industry develop and have diversity. Forming future-oriented, alternative culture, WFFIS contributes to the development of the balanced Korean culture to improve the Korean national image. Last year’s festival screened 115 films from 30 countries. The festival, on average, fills 90% of its screenings – rare for any film festival.

 

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival – With its initial start in 1988, it is one of the longest running women’s film festivals in the world. With the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs withholds an aesthetic value for this highly-regarded film festival. Aside from the three day festival, RMWFF hosts “Festival in the Community” during the week leading up to the festival. This week-long commencement for the festival includes free film screenings as well as a youth outreach program for at-risk youth. RMWFF maintains a conscious effort to cease the suppression of women in the film industry, and have branched out to aid all those who are suppressed, starting with the youth.

 

Films De Femmes/International Film Festival of Creteil – Founded in 1979, today the festival welcomes women from all over the world and screens almost 150 films. Films De Femmes takes pride in women’s prideful moment, highlighting their artistic commitments and political and social achievements. The event typically brings together more than 130 filmmakers and 20,000 spectators.

 

Birds-Eye View Film Festival – Birds-Eye promotes the fact that until the film industry is equally employed by both sexes, we are missing half the picture. Their mission is to raise public awareness of this issue and change the current statistics. Birds-Eye is the UK’s only public celebration of international women filmmakers. This year is a transition year for the film festival due to the changes in funding of British film. The full form festival will return in 2013. To jump start their feminist promotions, the festival opens on International Women’s Day.

 

St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival – With the slogan, “Made by Women, For Everyone” this festival epitomizes why these festivals initially started.  Established in 1989, SJIWFF is one of the longest running women’s film festivals, supporting and promoting women as filmmakers. This festival has several events throughout the year in their location of St.John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.  These include a local screening tour called Films On The Go, and several youth workshops. All of which culminate in a five day film festival in October where almost 4,000 participants gather for their program of international documentaries, shorts, and feature pieces.  The week also includes a series of workshops, seminars, and meetings for filmmakers and producers.

 

Underwire Festival – This festival is only in its third year running, but remains true to the women’s film festival initiatives. With a more local focus, Underwire’s co-founders, Gabriella Apicella and Gemma Mitchell, aim to showcase women working in the UK film industry by providing them inspiration and a bigger platform for their work. The four-day festival has sought out the best of British film, either made by or featuring female filmmakers. This year’s location is in the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton.  The festival features a blend of screenings, sessions, and networking in the aims of enhancing the industry with more gender balanced perspectives, stories, and experiences for audiences to come.

Madeline Wickman

About Madeline Wickman

Madeline is a junior from DePauw University. She is spending the semester abroad in London, studying at University of Westminster and interning at Raindance. Having interned for the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and worked for the Art Publicity at DePauw, Madeline is experienced in writing on behalf of the arts.

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17 Responses to Top Women’s Film Festivals

  1. Neil McCartney November 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    An interesting article. But who is the author? Important to know, especially given that the second paragraph begins with the words "The criteria I used to select these top film festivals…."

    • Elliot Grove April 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Hi Neil: we were having websit problems during the time we published this article and when we could add Madeline's name.

  2. Elkie Yates November 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Nice to see, but I have my own views on why there is a lack if women filmmakers. This could be a very interesting topic to dedate…

    • Gregory Paul Chaney November 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      It's an interesting topic. I'd enjoy reading your thoughts.

    • Elkie Yates November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Dare I comment? Well, I'm not one to hold back…I'm talking from an idie filmmakers P.O.V and not someone who is working for BBC etc… I'm learning the craft through making as I for one can't afford all the courses etc…so perhaps other women filmmakers answers will be different.
      1) Men have a different mindset to (most) women, for example, when a man gets a new car, he's straight in there pressing all the buttons. A lot of women won't even know where the hazard lights are until they actually need them. It's the same with camera equipment.
      2) Women have too many roles to juggle: mother, wage earner, house keeper etc and to try and hold down a difficult career too is a tough one. Most women once had children settle for a job rather than a career. Where as most men, carry on regardless.
      3) Risk taking, most women are not willing take as many risks as a man.

      I think these festivals are great btw, but these are my own views on the lack of women fimmakers in the industry…

    • Stacie Hawkins November 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      Speak for yourself, I'm one of those people pushing all the buttons on the new camera before I even read the instruction manual. If I ever read the instruction manual. Also, most young women are not married with children with a house to take care of and yet they still have a problem breaking in to Hollywood. And women most definitely take risks all the time.

      My experience has been that people have less confidence in women. They need to see proof before they trust that you can do something whereas I have seen men raise money and lead and gain confidence without having any experience or anything to show. When I was in film school we would help each other shoot our film projects. The guys only wanted girls to do casting, wardrobe, or craft services. They never trusted us to work with the camera or lights or even produce or be assistant directors.

      I think it's about mens perception of women and currently men run the industry.

    • Elkie Yates November 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      I said 'Most' not all and i have not met that many men in all honesty who do have a problem with women in the industry, I find them just as supportive to females as they are to males.

    • Jenny-Lynn Waugh Azarian November 23, 2012 at 3:06 am #

      Dear Elkie Yates – I've e-mailed Santa & asked him to bring you a calendar for Christmas. You see, it's 2012 and, as a group, women have taken our collective heads out of the sand and can now, thanks be to Jesus, find the hazard lights in our cars. We've also learned how to walk upright and talk and chew gum at the same time. Most of us even read. Imagine! But seriously, there is a paternal ceiling in the film industry, wherein women have to work much harder and be much better to get noticed. This will change, in time. My daughter is part of the future of women filmmakers. at just 13, she has written & directed 4 short films and has 64 film laurels under her belt to show for her efforts. She also has her own production company http://www.FrontPorchFilm.com. Oh & she can locate the hazard lights in my car AND she knows how to…wait for it, use camera equipment.

    • Elkie Yates November 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Haha! Congratulations on being able to fully operate your car! I'm awfully sorry but did my message read ALL women? or Majority…I do think I said majority

    • Elkie Yates November 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Jenny-Lynn Waugh Azarian Haha! Congratulations on being able to fully operate your car! I'm awfully sorry but did my message read ALL women? or Majority…I do think I said majority, so that means you're in the minority well done. I believe it is a struggle for all filmmakers to make it in the business, not just women. Instead of complaining and moping about it, I'd like to say 'just button it and get on with it'. This is not aimed at you, just the mopers in general. It's always someone elses fault, fed up of hearing that story! Ever thought that perhaps your work sucks? And that's why you've not made it! :)

  3. BRWC/battleroyalewithcheese November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    What a great piece!

  4. IIFF London November 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    For more insight on all film and finance, check out: http://patrickpinnock.wordpress.com/.

  5. Taylor-Grace Davis November 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    so glad I saw this! Awesome stuff!

  6. Jenny-Lynn Waugh Azarian November 23, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    Dear Elkie Yates – I've e-mailed Santa & asked him to bring you a calendar for Christmas. You see, it's 2012 and, as a group, women have taken our collective heads out of the sand and can now, thanks be to Jesus, find the hazard lights in our cars. We've also learned how to walk upright and talk and chew gum at the same time. Most of us even read. Imagine! But seriously, there is a paternal ceiling in the film industry, wherein women have to work much harder and be much better to get noticed. This will change, in time. My daughter is part of the future of women filmmakers. at just 13, she has written & directed 4 short films and has 64 film laurels under her belt to show for her efforts. She also has her own production company http://www.FrontPorchFilm.com. Oh & she can locate the hazard lights in my car AND she knows how to…wait for it, use camera equipment.

  7. Amanda Eliasch December 8, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Interesting I will follow the advice, having just made my first film.

  8. Elizabeth English June 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Dear Madeline, Thanks a million for listing the Moondance International Film Festival as one of the top women's film festivals in the world! I hope everyone will come & participate in the 2013 Moondance, September 26-29, in the historic seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut. The Moondance entry period is open until postmark June 30, and I hope your readers will submit their projects to us! http://www.moondancefilmfestival.com/blog
    EMAIL: MOONDANCEFESTIVAL@GMAIL.COM

  9. Arwen Hunter October 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is also a big deal: womeninfilm.ca

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