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.