Five Questions with The Melbourne Women In Film Festival

Yes! Journal

Five Questions with The Melbourne Women In Film Festival

We love films, we love Melbourne and of course we love supporting creative women doing creative things. With this in mind, it made perfect sense for us to be recognition sponsors of the second Melbourne Women In Film Festival this year (that, and the fact we have been busting to see our logo on a film screen since the day we began…).

It's been a topical time for women in the film industry which makes the work of the festival even more vital. We caught up with Wonder Woman Curator of the Festival, Sian Mitchell to find out more about the program and what to expect from this year's event before it kicks off this Thursday 22nd February.



Still from 'Drama' by Sophie Mathisen.

1. With so many film festivals around these days, we are excited that one has finally been curated to focus on women in the industry. How did the idea/inspiration for MWFF come about?

There were 2 key reasons why I wanted to start MWFF. The first was to provide more opportunities for my female film students to see Australian women working in the screen industry and doing what they want to do. This leads to the second reason, which is we don't see these films enough! Or that films made by women are considered in the same ways as films made by men. So a festival that celebrates this work, allowing opportunities for more screenings and finding an audience, as well as having conversations around women's filmmaking, seemed much needed.
Still from 'Love Serenade' by Shirley Barrett.

2. Tell us three films we absolutely must not miss at MWFF?

This is hard as there are more than three (but I'm biased, of course). I would say, depending on what you're into: 
1. The Silences - a personal essay/documentary from Margot Nash about her family and relationship with her mother. It's a beautiful film and we're lucky to have Margot down for a Q&A after the screening.

2. Music in Motion - this session screens 3 films that musically inclined or integrates music with image in interesting ways. It includes Wild Dances (a coming together and bonding of two people who live on opposite sides of the world over Eurovision by Bina Bhattacharya), The Was (video mash up piece made in collaboration between Soda_Jerk and The Avalanches) and One Night the Moon (a Rachel Perkins film starring Paul Kelly).

3. (Our closing night film), Drama by . This is a feature that was made entirely by crowdfunding, but it doesn't look like it. Set in Paris, it explores the difficulties, tensions and joys of relationships and friendships. 
I'm going to sneak in mention of our opening night film, Love Serenade, and our 3 sessions of short films as well. I know, I'm cheating here, but really there's something for everyone here.

Still from 'St. Elmo' by Emily Dynes.
3. What are you excited about in the Australian Film Industry?

That the tides seem to changing for women in the industry. There's discussion being had at some of the top levels, in distribution, exhibition and funding sectors, that are now paying more attention to the inequality within the industry and aiming to find ways to rectify it. 
Of course, this is happening around the world too, but we're seeing much more focus on the engrained problems within the industry (e.g. sexual harassment) that are being brought to light and inspiring change. Although there is a long way to go, I think there is some really exciting change a foot that is giving women the confidence to speak up and pursue their goals with confidence.

Still from 'Wild Dances' by Bina Bhattacharya.
4. Tell us three Australian female film talents we should keep an eye on?

In our festival this year, we have films by Amie Batalibasi (Blackbird - Shorts Session #2), Natalie Erika James (Creswick - Shorts Session #2) and Emily Dynes (St. Elmo in our Next Gen Student Shorts). 
Both Amie and Natalie are achieving some amazing things here and overseas. For example, Amie has most recently been invited to participate in the Berlinale Talents Summit this year - a very prestigious event - and Natalie is off to New York to participate in a pitching workshop as part of the Australian International Screen Forum. 
And if St Elmo is anything to go by, having already screened at MIFF last year, then Emily is going to have a long career - a very beautifully shot and mature film.

5. Name your favourite female film protagonist of all time?

Ellen Ripley, hands down and especially in Aliens (the sequel). She's tough although vulnerable, maternal, and isn't perfect or any kind of stereotype. A complex woman. 
The Melbourne Women In Film Festival runs from Thursday 22nd February until Sunday 25th February 2018. Read more about the festival and check the program and screening times here.

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