Image for Culture + Events: World of Women (WOW) Film FestivalFor me a good festival is not just the works screened but the vibe and friendliness with which patrons can relax and enjoy their fix of celluloid. The moment I walk into the foyer of the spacious Chauvel Cinema, I am greeted by the noise of a pleasant bustling crowd and violin playing of Annette and Cath Golden. I gather a complimentary glass of bubbly, some finger food, catch up with some friends and then sit myself down to watch the first of tonight’s programmes.

Culture + Events: World of Women (WOW) Film Festival

Written by Robbie Gadsbey on October 20, 2009

16th World of Women (WOW) Film Festival
Opening Night, 14th October 2009
Chauvel Cinema, Paddington Town Hall

For me a good festival is not just the works screened but the vibe and friendliness with which patrons can relax and enjoy their fix of celluloid. The moment I walk into the foyer of the spacious Chauvel Cinema, I am greeted by the noise of a pleasant bustling crowd and violin playing of Annette and Cath Golden. I gather a complimentary glass of bubbly, some finger food, catch up with some friends and then sit myself down to watch the first of tonight’s programmes. The vibe continues into the cinema with the blues played live on stage by George Baraliakos and Tony Eyers. Introductions are aplenty and quite rightly so. The festival has no less than 47 sponsors, possibly the largest ever for any Australian Film Festival, which is a testament to it’s success and level of support given to continue its longevity and creative development of filmmakers. Leisle Grant is our MC who sets the tone for the evening by jovially introducing the WOW (World of Women) Festival and Festival Director Sil-Nyin Cameron, guest speakers Tania Chambers and Virginia Judge as well as some of the filmmakers on stage and encouraging us to mingle with them afterwards.

I must admit that even though I have known of this festival and WIFT (Women In Film and Television) for several years I was somewhat ignorant to the multitude of support and events ran by the organisation and the films screened tonight reflect the high standard of talent that is be shown to a broad audience. You may think that this is a festival for women and it is to some degree but it’s not really in some ways. There are a lot of men in the audience this evening and there are even a few men who have directed films that are being screened at the festival. It’s more a celebration of women’s filmmaking and women’s stories seen through the eyes of women. Sadly women are still grossly under-represented in most areas of filmmaking with the number of women working in many technical areas having dropped between 1996 and 2006. So it is fantastic to see so many creative talents get the chance to air their projects and films that they have worked on that normally would not get the chance to be seen by a larger audience.

Australian Shorts is our first session this evening and “Warpaint”by Heather Phillips is a simple and visually effective piece asking the question why a woman applies her make up. “Lash” and “Necessary Games-Necessity” are two contemporary films that share similar themes of love and touch. Both are beautifully acted and directed. “Identity in Motion” is a documentary about Karen Pearlman who was a contemporary dancer and now academic authority on editing and the film captures subtle metaphors. “Dancing Through The Pain” is another documentary that focuses on the abductions in Northern Uganda that took place for over 20 years. Whilst the reflections of those who were forced to become sex slaves and child soldiers is shocking and sad, we can see the respite in their singing and dancing to help ease their pain. Due to the very short running time I didn’t feel that I had enough time to fully connect with the women and children and how they truly benefit from their creative outlet and this felt like a very short UNICEF promo video.

“Warning: It May Contains Subtitles” is an enjoyable black comedy with naturalistic performances from both its leads. “Terror on the Northside” is an hilarious comedy of errors on the stereotypical background of a muslim man. Highlights of the evening are Dena Curtis’s powerful “Jacob”, a tense drama set in the 1940’s outback Australia that deals with issues of acceptance and loving in an aboriginal community and “Four” by Erin White that yet again explores the theme of love as well as unconventional families. I needed a tissue to wipe away my tears of sadness for “Jacob” and used the same one to mop up my tears of joy and laughter for “Four”.

Interval time and I refill my glass of champers and proceed to watch session two which is International Shorts. “Misconnect” features a highly original screenplay by Aloura Charles that captures the essence of hope from both the protagonists involved that are trapped in their own worlds. “The Debt Collector” is tale of monotony in a somewhat dead end call centre job, only broken by the dance of the tango. “A Springtime Memory” deals with issues of death and youthfulness and “The Reason I Collect” is a very stylish stop frame animated documentary about collecting and hoarding. The final film of the evening “Open Your Eyes” was another winner. Directed by Susan Cohen, a woman deals with the aftermath of breast cancer and how she deals with her body and herself. And with that the first evening ends and I leave feeling satisfied that I have seen an overall excellent plethora of films. Special thanks go to Sil-Nyin Cameron, Raksha Pinto, Ana Tiwary and all the festival staff, volunteers and Chauvel Cinema.

You’ll love this if: You want to be entertained by a diverse mix of films and the chance to meet their exceptional makers.

You’ll hate this if: You don’t want to see the world through the eyes of women

The festival runs until 18th October at the Chauvel Cinema, Paddington with tours nationally and internationally. For further dates on screenings and more information on Mentorships, talks, and networking events visit:
http://www.wift.org

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