Tag Archives: female filmmakers

Arab & North African Womxn’s Arts in Glasgow: Dardishi Festival 2019

I first came across Dardishi (8-11 March 2019) when I attended Document Human Rights Film Festival in Glasgow last October. Having been looking forward to it for months, it was a shame I only managed to make it to two sessions on one day, but it still left a big impression.

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My first event on Saturday afternoon was called ‘Diasporic Daydreams: Storytelling, Solidarity and Survival in our films.’ It was a wonderful collection of short films by Arab and North African female filmmakers living in diaspora creatively and positively dealing with ways how to overcome trauma. The showcase included documentary, animation, fiction and interview and my favourite was probably an animated short film movingly chronicling a displaced young Syrian woman’s dilemma of having to bridge two very different worlds. The pleasure of being at smaller, more grassroots festivals is getting a unique chance to discover cultural jems such as these, which highlight shared human experience and bring us closer together rather than divide us. Even better if a festival champions womxn filmmakers and artists who are still underrepresented in almost all walks of life. The curator of this event, researcher Sumaya Kassim, led an audience discussion after the screenings and empathised the importance of solidarity across cultures and genders in times of rising fascism and xenophobia.

The second event was a screening of Mai Masri’s award-winning feature in Arabic with English subtitles called ‘3000 Nights’. Its female protagonist, a pregnant Palestinian schoolteacher serving time in an Israeli prison, took us into a world that is as cruel as it is intriguing. This film definitely didn’t make for easy viewing, but another example of how such stories can help cross cultural barriers and remind us of our shared humanity where mainstream media or politics often fail.

Other events included a creative writing event, a children’s art and activism workshop and even a session on learning to DJ all of which gave anyone identifying as a girl or womxn plenty of opportunities to express themselves creatively in a welcoming and safe environment. For those of you not from Glasgow, the venue, the CCA right in the centre of Glasgow (including a veggie cafe), is a wonderful incubator of cultural events and there is guaranteed to be something interesting on if you are visiting.

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Apart from film screenings (including a queer movie night), music and talks, there was also a lovely quiet space to hang out in between events, which required no ticket, was open to all and provided a respite away from the noisier aspects of the festival. A real effort had also been made to make the festival accessible in various ways: financially via sliding scale ticket options as well as in a physical sense to people of all abilities, including providing sign language interpreters.

I was delighted to hear that the volunteer-run festival has secured further funding for events throughout the year. You can also support Dardishi by getting on their mailing list, attend events and purchase some of their lovely and creative merch and zines, all created by womxn. Oh and if, like me, you had never heard of the Glasgow Zine Library before, do check out their events as well as the fabulous Glasgow Women’s Library.

Disclaimer: Life is a Festival was provided with tickets for the 2019 festival in exchange for a personal review of the event. Opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the same as the official views of the event organisers. All photography used in this blog post was taken by Life is a Festival.

Female Film Focus: The Vancouver Women in Film and TV Festival 2011

The Vancouver Women in Film and TV Festival felt like it swished by in just a few seconds, seriously. From 4 until 6 March 2011 an extensive programme of carefully selected films was being screened at the Vancity Theatre in downtown Vancouver, all made by and with some amazing female filmmakers. As it was happening during my first week at a new job though I barely managed to see anything apart from the films that were on during my actual shifts.

What I did catch was impressive, not only the films but also the Q&A sessions afterwards. A Window Looking In was a portrait of 12 BC based artists, with stunning visuals and interviewees that included Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan. Sisters in Arms portrayed female Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan and the impact their deployment had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I also saw Leave Them Laughing for the second time after having watched it at VIFF last October – just as emotional as the first time around.

Even though the festival passed me by a bit too quickly for my liking, it was another reminder of what powerful stories can emerge when the creative ideas and output of women working in film are being supported and strengthened. Apart from screenings with Q&A sessions and a Women in the Director’s Chair Panel there was also a Digital Media Forum, Pitching Sessions and an Industry Showcase, all in all a compact display of the creative contributions of women to the Canadian and international film scene. More please!