Special Report: Créteil International Women's Film Festival, 2005

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
The 27th international women's film festival held outside Paris in Créteil that ran March 11- 20 confirms that this panorama of world cinema featuring powerful portraits of women is the largest annual festival of women’s films. It is not a festival that is supported by champagne and mobile phone companies, but by the French local and state government, a festival under the excellent and watchful eye of director Jackie Buet!

This year was a first for two sections—the invitation of Asian countries – some for the first time to Créteil for a special spotlight on women filmmakers for that region such as by Tania Sng and Wong Lee from Singapore and Nan T. Achnas from Indonesia .

Secondly , a spotlight on experimental work by Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki the first of its kind at Créteil. The two Greek women who have adopted France since the junta in their country are known for Corporeal Cinema dedicated to the movement of the body. They are leading artists in the experimental film movement in France and two of their films: Selva, Portrait of Parvaneh Navaï (1981/1983) and Chutes.Désert.Syn (1983/1985) both made in super 8 with a separate sound track the archives were restored by the French archives, who financed a 35mm print with synchronized sound. Since many women filmmakers from the 70’s and 80’s worked in super 8, the funding of these films was an extraordinary effort by the French archives.

This year the festival honored Juliette Binoche as guest of honor with a retrospective of her work. Binoche was on hand to meet the public after the screening of Trois Coleur, Bleue by Krysztof Kieslowki, a film she chose as her personal favorite. Also on hand was Julie Delpy, who met with the public after an advance screening of 'Before Sunset'. Delpy and Ethan Hawke wrote the script for together with Richard Linklater - and Delpy wrote the songs she sang in the film.

Special films of the festival include films from Asia:

Butterfly by Yan Yan Mak, Hong Kong (was the opening film), selected for the international critic's week at Venice this past year. The film is a portrait of a school teacher who meets a young woman who reminds her of an earlier relationship her parents discouraged.Yan Yan Mak artfully weaves super 8 film with digital to create a mosaic of memory that unites the two time periods.

Yau Ching’s film Let's Love Hong Hong, is about two women referred to by others they meet as 'gentlemen'. They eventually find each other among the bunk bed confusion and sexualized imagery offered to the lonely in Hong Kong, a relationship symbolized by footage of giraffes. Ching is an outspoken representative of Hong Kong cinema and brought up the minority representation of women working in Asia in a special director’s meeting.

Both directors will be interviewed in next week’s show.

Other excellent films in the Asian panorama:Concrete Revolution is a rich documentary about the transformation of Beijing by Xiaolu Guo. Whispering Sands by Nan T Achnas is a timeless world class feature about a young girl and her mother who live on the shores of Indonesia, beset by sexual violence and abandonment. Achnas told the audience about the devastation caused by the tsunami to her country.

SEPET –was the jury prize winner of festival Yasmin Ahmad from (Malaysia) Ahmad says she makes films about her parents, and said that in Malaysia, Muslim women are equal with their husbands.

Two films from Denmark also did well at the festival. The public prize for best documentary feature , and from the French Association of Women Journalists went to PROSTITUTION BEHIND THE VEIL by Nahid Persson who lives in Sweden (Denmark) a documentary about young women forced into prostitution and drug addiction in Teheran, abused by men and the police.

The Public prize for best feature film went to BROTHER by
Susanne Bier (Denmark) - a film about a man who helps out his sister in law and children when his brother mysteriously disappears.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Paris FRANCE.

More Information:
Créteil International Women's Film Festival, 2005