Thanks to everyone who was involved in making LFFF 2013 a success!

lfffWe just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in LFFF this year!

Thanks to: the directors who submitted their fantastic films; the panellists and chairs who contributed to our lively panel discussions; our amazing LFFF volunteers; our jury members; Picturehouse staff; the afterparty artists, performers, and DJs; the Arch Gallery for hosting our afterparty; and all the people who came along to the festival!

We hope you all enjoyed LFFF 2013!

Best regards

LFFF Team.

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LFFF 2013 afterparty and awards ceremony!!

On Saturday 30 Nov from 7pm to 3am we had our LFFF 2013 afterparty and awards ceremony at the Arch Gallery. Lots of you came along to celebrate the festival with us and we were joined by many of the filmmakers and panellists who had helped to make LFFF 2013 such a success.

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We had music from Hatty & Sophie and Faith Taylor and spoken word by Bridget Minamore.

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And artworks on the walls by Claudine O’Sullivan and Josie Rae Turnbull.

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We announced the winners of the Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, and Feminist Favourite Audience Award! The awards went to….

Best Feature Film: The Cut by Beryl Magoko

Best Short Film: Blank Canvas by Sarah Berkovich

Feminist Favourite Audience Award: Daughters of the Niger Delta by Ilse van Lamoen

We projected videos of Beryl and Sarah’s acceptance speeches onto the wall of the gallery and will be putting all three winners’ certificates in the post to them.

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Later on, DJs Alison King, Angelica, and Vinyl Library were on the decks.

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Thanks to everyone who came to the party!!

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A cracking end to LFFF 2013!

Saturday was the last day of LFFF 2013 and what a jam-packed, inspiring day it was!

We started off with HERSTORIES at 3.30pm. Five films were shown: Through the Glass Ceiling, La Forza Non Basta, Waiting For You, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Joy It’s Nina. We had representatives from three of the films with us for a panel discussion chaired by Abbe Fletcher.

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Next up, at 6.00pm, was the kick-ass FEMINIST CLASSIC Born in Flames by Lizzie Borden which was shown after the short animation Smile by Nadia Barbu. Nadia joined us for the panel along with Natalie Wreyford and chair Sadie Wearing, and an interesting discussion was had about the two films and about women in the film industry in general.

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Then it was time for our LFFF 2013 afterparty and awards ceremony at the Arch Gallery!! See our separate post on that! :)

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Interview with Laal Pari director Sadia Halima

Sadia Halima’s film Laal Pari screened at LFFF 2013 on 27 November at 6.30pm as part of the sold out INSPIRING WOMEN session of short films. We spoke to her about her film.

Laal Pari - Dir by Sadia

Where did you hear of Laal Pari and what inspired you to capture her story?
I’m from the same region in Bihar, India as Laal Pari, the film’s protagonist. While growing up I saw many women around me who would exercise their agency in their own way – it was always very inspiring to see that. So I wanted to break myths surrounding those women who are generally considered to be oppressed and in need of saving by outsiders. To answer your first question, I met Laal Pari during my field study in a meeting of all elected women representatives, where she was very forthcoming about the issues which she and most of the elected women representatives of the village councils face.
Her grit and fearlessness were remarkable and I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and next thing I found myself following her on all her field trips and meetings.

What is your background and how did you get into filmmaking?
I come from a small town where filmmaking especially for a girl was unthinkable and I had not thought I would ever become one. But one thing led to another, I went to the University of Delhi to pursue my undergraduate studies in Mass Communication, and that exposed me to the variety of options and I realised I particularly enjoyed films and filmmaking. My first short documentary was on contemporary Indian Muslim women in New Delhi and around, and it was a thrill to make. After that I worked in film and television production, eventually realising I wanted to work on my own independent projects which led me to film school at the University of California, Santa Cruz. For me the process of filmmaking was a gradual one but surprising nonetheless.

Sadia Filming - Laal Pari

What challenges did you encounter making Laal Pari? How did you fund it?
The main challenge I had was time, or lack of it. I had only two and a half months and most of that went into field study because I wanted to do very extensive field research before embarking on the film. This eventually really helped because it also became a vehicle for talent/story scouting for the film.
I was partially funded through grants, and being in grad school helped with renting out equipment from the UC Santa Cruz’s film lab.

What are your plans for the future? And is there a running theme throughout your projects?
I’m looking for funding to finish stories of other women leaders who I have also filmed but who could not make it into the film. I would like to produce webisodes of these elected women leaders working passionately in rural grassroots politics. And I would like to continue making more films.
I didn’t think of a running theme before, but to think of it it seems I like to make films that challenge stereotypes related to women and their experiences. My earlier film A Woman Is a Woman First on contemporary Indian Muslim women and Laal Pari a story of an illiterate elected woman leader’s journey in grassroots politics in rural India both break a certain misconception about women in our society, especially women in third world countries.

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What is your favourite feminist film?
A feminist film for me would be a film that is true to a woman’s experience. There are quite a few films that are made with that sensitivity. One film that particularly touched me was an Iranian film Roozi Ke Zan Shodam (The Day I Became a Woman) directed by Marzieh Meshkini Makhmalbaf. It is a beautiful film that brings together three generations of women in different contexts together. Beautiful and thoughtful storytelling.

Interview by Carla Grande

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Some more great LFFF 2013 sessions – round-up of the last couple of days!

On Thursday we screened the International Festival Premiere of Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights by Nevline Nnaji. The screening was sold out and we unfortunately had to turn away many disappointed people. Nevline and the other panellists  – Sunera Thobani, Hayley Reid, and chair Brenna Bhandar – provided a fascinating discussion.

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The session after Reflections on Thursday was entitled EXPECTATIONS and was a series of shorts about societal expectations of women. Aabida dealt with the expectations for a widow to act a certain way, The Lala Road talked to lesbians in China navigating the pressures to marry and have children, and Bref explored the topic of FGM from a Spanish perspective. Joining us for the discussion were Bref director Christina Pitouli, Nimco Ali from Daughters of Eve who campaign against FGM, Margaret Glover who supervised work on Aabida, and Claire Bennett who has done research on lesbian women’s experience of migration.

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Daughters of the Niger Delta was our first screening on Friday, shown with the short Para Kay Ama. A lively discussion ensued after the screening, including about how to empower women and how to hold the powers that be accountable. We had six great panellists from different organisations: Sarah Maguire (Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, who had directly witnessed the film’s capacity to spark dialogue at the grassroots), Jenny Chika Okafor (Nigerian Women’s Leadership Forum), Carron Mann (Women for Women International), Betty Makoni (Girl Child Network Worldwide), Antonia Adebisi Adebowale (Nigerian Women in Diaspora UK), and the chair Simi Dosekun.

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Friday finished off with our ACTIVISM session with four inspiring films showing amazing women activists campaigning on different causes. We had a representative from each of the four films there for the panel discussion which was chaired by LFFFer Niki Chang.

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We hope you’ll join us for more today – the final day of LFFF 2013!

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Interview with La Forza Non Basta director Valentina Arena

La Forza2Valentina Arena is an independent film director and video maker. She graduated in Cinema from the University of Bologna, Italy. She creates short films and documentaries, leads video workshops, and organises cultural events. Her work has been awarded both in Italy and abroad.

Strength Is Not Enough (La Forza Non Basta) will be given its UK premiere at the HERSTORIES session on Saturday 30 November 2013 at 3.30pm.

La Forza4How did you first get into the film industry and what led you into making short films?
I decided to work with video language when I was around 15, I think – I was definitely a teenager. Since then every step of mine headed in this direction. I went to film school and attended several video labs and workshops. I began to shoot short films, all of them without a real production and in a very independent condition. In my experience it is very hard in Italy to get into the official film industry, so I just began to work outside of this system because I needed to express myself without waiting for the ‘right occasion’ that might never occur.

What was your motivation for creating a short film about violence against women?
Since the beginning of my work, my gender has been an important issue in my films. I have been aware of the limitations and discriminations that were bound to my gender, and I realised that violence against women was the result of the social role imposed on women and the obvious reaction to the efforts that women make to finally get out from under this stereotype. This reflection became to me a filter by which I observe reality.

The focus of the short is to exhibit the issue of gender-orientated violence from a different perspective. How did you go about depicting this on screen?
First of all I needed to show woman not as a fragile victim as very often in my country videos about this kind of violence always show women as being wounded and crying and suggest that they have to be stronger or that they need to be protected. I think that these kinds of representations are wrong and unproductive. We need tools to get used to what women really are: independent and free human beings who are free to make their own decisions, to dress as they prefer, and to live the life they want. Most of all, it’s time to stop suggesting, willingly or not, that violence against women rises from a certain gender specific behaviour or weakness: we need to turn our eyes to the real roots of this problem and begin to face them, by changing our whole society and culture.

La Forza Non Basta was made with crowdfunding. What was this like as a funding process and how did you go about planning the film?
I really wanted to shoot this film and I was not patient enough to search for the money in the classical way: I thought that this kind of message needed to be said as soon as possible. With the collaboration of the Collective ‘Le Arrabbiate’ I began a crowdfunding campaign: it works by selling people a video that doesn’t exist yet and they, by buying one or more copies of it, cover the production costs. We spread the campaign by using social networks and by meeting several people that work with these kinds of issues and we succeeded in covering the expenses. We had several responses by people, associations, and companies that offered technical sponsors. We worked a lot on this campaign, but it was worth it.

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What are your next plans? Will you make more films?
I am searching for funding for my next project, a documentary with a mix of live action shooting and animation, and of course I will do more films. I have several projects and I wish to be able to realise them.

What is your favourite feminist film?
I can’t choose just one, so I will write some titles. All of them are films in which the directors (all women) have been very bold, sincere, and technically flawless. Women Without Men by Shirin Neshat, Frida by Julie Taymor, Winter’s Bone by Debra Granik, and The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko.

Interview by Belle Busby

Tickets for Valentina’s film are available here: http://londonfeministfilmfestival.com/lfff-2013-programme/lfff2013/herstories/

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LFFF 2013 continues!

We’ve had some more great sessions at LFFF the past few days, with one session completely selling out and some very interesting panel discussions.

CLAIMING SPACES on Monday gave us food for thought about ways women can (re)claim their spaces in the world. We were lucky enough to be joined by the directors of two of the films, Teena Gill and Kelly Gallagher, who had flown in specially for the premieres of their films. Shannon Harvey chaired the discussion, in what was a poignant session for International Day to End Violence Against Women.

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We were back on Tuesday night for the first FEMINIST CLASSIC of this year’s festival – Sally Potter’s stunning, original first feature The Gold Diggers, made in 1983. Made with an all-woman crew, this film was a collaborative effort between Sally, Rose English, and Lindsay Cooper. Lindsay, the composer of the wonderful score on the film, sadly passed away a couple of months ago, so to celebrate her work we played some of her music as people were filing into the cinema. Sophie Mayer gave a fascinating and moving introduction to the film, also talking about Lindsay’s work. After the screening, Sophie Mayer and Elinor Cleghorn had a lively discussion about the film, with lots of good audience input. We were also lucky enough to receive a personal message to the audience from Sally Potter.

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Wednesday’s INSPIRING WOMEN was very inspiring indeed. A packed house watched four powerful short films about women in different parts of the world who are working for women’s rights including Laal Pari, a village councillor in India, and Maria Bashir, the first woman chief prosecutor in Afghanistan. Anna Cady and Em Cooper, makers of the film 30%, joined us for the panel discussion along with Dorett Jones from Imkaan. The discussion was expertly chaired by Jessica Horn, founder of African Feminist Forum.

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