By Emily Yakashiro
Did the lack of female nominees (other than lead and supporting actress, of course) at the Oscars get you down? Fortunately there are festivals/events that support and recognize the achievements of women filmmakers specifically. Right here in Vancouver, the 10th annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is coming up, running March 4-8th 2015, supporting female filmmakers in all sorts of roles.
The past couple years I have had the pleasure of volunteering as a judge for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, a local event which is put on by Women in Film and Television Vancouver. I’m really proud of this year’s lineup, and for those of you here in Vancouver, I personally invite you to attend this fantastic event.
For a film to be eligible for our festival, a woman must fill three key creative roles (director, writer, producer, editor, cinematographer, music, etc).
The festival runs March 4-8th downtown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre, and already the screenings for opening night film Margarita with a Straw, and the Highway of Tears documentary block have sold out! Given that the festival runs during March 8th, International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s achievements.
Filmmaking for women in Canada has been particularly difficult this past year—in our festival committee, we noticed a distinct lack of feature-length narrative films compared to our 2014 festival. This means in that in an industry dominated by men, women had a harder time than ever getting their films made and on screen at festivals. As such, I really encourage you all to show your support for female filmmakers by spreading the word about the festival, and showing up to watch some really excellent films.
Personally, I would recommend a few films in particular.
Relative Happiness showing on Friday, March 6th starting at 9:30 pm has my recommendation for a few reasons. It’s a feature-length dramedy from back East, and it’s actually funny—I watched it twice when I was judging just for fun and laughed out loud all the while. I love the film’s protagonist Lexi Ivy (played by Melissa Bergland), who is a fiery 30-something who runs a bed and breakfast, wears dresses even when she goes camping, and makes jams and preserves for local craft fairs in her spare time. I also love that the film has some body diversity—Lexi Ivy is a ‘plus’ size gal and totally steals the show. Bonus for Closet Feminists–you can read an interview with the costume designer for Relative Happiness, Sarah Dunsworth, here.
Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz showing Friday, March 6th at 6:30 is a great, fun doc. Yes, the music is amazing, and the subject matter fascinating. Even if you don’t like jazz, I can guarantee you’ll get into the ‘swing’ of things. Thoroughly researched, the film covers musicians from the 1920s-1970s, and has tons of interviews with women who were in these bands back in the day. This film also stands out to me as it features the perspectives of many women of colour—a must-see, for sure. In the spirit of things, the festival will also have a jazz reception featuring performer Jillian Lebeck!
Lastly, I want to suggest A 5-Star, an Iranian film showing Saturday, March 7th at 9:30 pm. I didn’t get a chance to see this film while I was judging, but the other judges said its quite funny and unexpected—it’s about a mother and daughter working at a fancy hotel, and all hell breaks loose when a major guest’s watch gets stolen. They didn’t tell me much more than that, but I’m quite intrigued, and we don’t see many films from Iran coming through our festival usually.
You can check out the whole schedule online here.
You can purchase tickets online in advance here OR you can get them at the box office. All movies are shown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre downtown.
Be sure to check out the festival Facebook group, and if you attend any screenings or events for the festival, tweet about it using #VIWIFF2015.