Dublin Feminist Film Festival 2017 – A Handy Guide

Like many of my compatriots, I often convince myself that this week I’m definitely going to make use of Dublin’s cultural activities. Instead, every evening I fall prey to the insidious Netflix-and-Couch. One of the hurdles in locking down an evening’s entertainment is pure laziness. What are the things? Where are they on? Why isn’t there an overarching theme? It follows that (goddamn) I do love me a festival. One big event putting together a whole host of award winning entertainment. What’s not to like?

So clear your calendar and throw out the couch because The Dublin Feminist Film Festival kicks off this week. The list is here, all the things are accounted for and the overarching theme is women in all their utter glory. Rolling into its fourth year, the festival not only seeks to demonstrate women as compelling subjects of film, but also to showcase women filmmakers and represent different perspectives from women around the world.

I’m half in-love with the Festival before it has even begun, considering the theme is FeministFutures – the topic focus is ‘science and the universe, magical realism, technology and the digital world, contemporary feminist issues and movements, sci-fi, dystopia, and the future female’.

Lesbian space-aliens and kitsch witches, hot damn.


Come here to me, and let’s break down the program so we can artfully plan our week to come. #DFFF2017!

Thursday 16th November 2017

6.00-7.45pm Trapped + short €10 – INFO

Without getting into any potentially incendiary language, I think we can all agree that things aren’t looking great in America, particularly if you’re not white, upper/middle class and male. Trapped is a fascinating documentary which provides an insight into the devolution of reproduction rights in America. Providing a platform for the harrowing tales of doctors, clinic owners and staff who have had to fight to keep their clinics running, Trapped examines the prohibitive TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws. On a near weekly basis, the powerful anti-choice lobby use these laws to create impossible standards for clinics – the cost of conforming and time pressure alone have caused most clinics in Alabama to shut down. This award-winning documentary allows us to hear the stories of the few that are still open, while never losing sight of the chilling caveat that they may only be open for now. Fairly relevant in Ireland at the moment, Trapped is a harrowing insight to the ongoing fight for reproductive rights around the world.

The film will be preceded by short film The Condom Man by Cara Holmes.

8.00-9.45pm Advantageous + short €10 – INFO

We’re mad for the dystopias these days, maybe because we’re keen to pick up pointers. This one’s for all the sci-fi fans looking to immerse themselves in a world where society is becoming more technologically advanced, but moving backwards in social terms for women. Insert a sarcastic tone of voice on that last if you wish. Advantageous is subtle in its science fiction, set in a near-future world of huge sky scrapers and sleek, circular aircraft. It revolves around Gwen and her struggle to ensure a safe future for her 12 year old daughter Jules. The story drops breadcrumbs for the viewer to collect, so while it initially seems like Gwen’s biggest concern is getting Jules into a posh school, much darker, twisted concerns are slowly reveals as the plot unfolds. Filled with sterile silences and barely spoken of medical procedures, Advantageous poses questions regarding our value as individuals, racial prejudice and women’s bodily autonomy.

The film will be preceded by short film Salt & Sauce by Alia Ghafar.

Friday 17th November 2017

4-6.05pm The Farthest + short €10 – INFO

Breathtaking in the love with which it tells its story, The Farthest is a lush, visually stunning documentary following the journey of Voyager 1 and 2 as humanity’s proxies for exploration through the vast expanse of space. One of the most exciting film releases of this year, The Farthest weaves the tale of NASA’s 1977 Voyager program through the eyes of those involved. Director Emer Reynolds uses joyful interviews with scientists and engineers to bring the audience under the curtain of cold science, and to revel in the sheer scientific curiosity and enthusiasm that brought Voyager into interstellar space. Carrying the ‘golden record’ containing information about humanity, and continuing to excel and achieve while on its lonely voyage, the Voyager is held up as a symbol of what it means to be human in this moving, award winning documentary.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#F42A2A” class=”” size=””]Read our interview with The Farthest director Emer Reynolds here[/perfectpullquote]

The film will be preceded by short film Stacey Lee by Jennifer Meade.

6.20-8pm Wolf and Sheep + short €10 – INFO

If space and sci-fi aren’t your cup of tea and you’d prefer something a little more magical, then grab a ticket to the award winning Wolf and Sheep. Mixing fantasy folklore and magical realism with down to earth drama, Wolf and Sheep centres on a community in a very small and isolated village in rural central Afghanistan. Director-writer Shahrbanoo Sadat, Afghanistan’s first-ever female feature director, hails from this village. She created this film as a representation of her own observations of daily life and the social rules people impose on themselves. Filled with entrancing visuals, the film mixes the mundane life of the villagers with striking moments of magical realism, allowing Sadat to weave a strange tale designed to go against the grain of Western portrayals of Afghanistan.

The film will be preceded by short film Mai by Marta González.

8.15-9.50pm Code: Debugging the Gender Gap + short €10 – INFO

If you think Ada Lovelace was an absolute baller (of course you do) and you’re scratching your head as to why women have been left in the cold when it comes to computers, then look no further! CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap is a documentary by Robin Hauser Reynolds on the lack of women and minorities in the field of software engineering. Ambitious in its scope and biting in its breakdown of sexist tropes, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap detangles history and shines a light on ‘brogrammer’ culture to paint a comprehensive analysis of cultural shifts in the tech industry. Featuring Kimberly Bryant (founder of Black Girls Code), Danielle Feinberg (director of photography at Pixar, leading WALL-E and Brave) and Tracy Chou (Pinterest, Quora), this is one to watch with your laptop on hand.

The film will be preceded by short film Cycologic by Emilia Stålhammar, Elsa Lövdin & Veronica Pålsson.

Friday Event: ‘Feminist Futures’ talk

Dr. Sarah Arnold: Future Media Needs Feminism – INFO

6.30-7.30pm – FREE but ticketed (upstairs room)

We’re seeing a momentous shift in Hollywood where victims of appalling behaviour finally feel as though they can name and rightfully shame the perpetrators. However, it’s unlikely that this will have a ‘trickle-down effect’ unless we work hard to create an accommodating environment. Future Media Needs Feminism is a talk hosted by Dr. Sarah Arnold, which will focus on strategies currently being used  to make media industries a less hostile and violent place for women as well as some of the ways to maintain the current momentum of feminist advocacy and activism. This is an important topic, one well worthy of your attention.

Saturday 18th November 2017

12-1.30pm Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model + short €10 – INFO

I don’t know about you lot, but whenever I have a look at what ‘The Kids’ are wearing these days I feel ancient. Girls half my age are wearing next to nothing in heels twice as high. I’m all for wearing what you want, but when they’re emulating popstars dressed to garner maximum sex-appeal, it all gets a bit uncomfortable. Directed by Becky Brand, Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model is a fascinating look at what a tweenage girl actually wants out of a role model. Performance artist Byrony Kimmings works with her niece Taylor (plus stylists, make-up artists, set-designers and music video directors) to create Catherine Bennett – or ‘CB’ – a palaeontologist who is a pop-star in her spare time. Taylor provides the attractive, glossy aspects of the character, while Byrony and her team work to balance that with practical elements. Like an outfit you can ride a bike in. In a world of sceptic fame-grabbing reality TV shows, it’s a breath of fresh air to watch the team create CB’s music video and her musical identity with such positive intent. Touring and radio air-time being the ultimate goal, the film is a blend of behind-the-scenes and pop-umentary. The documentary is narrated by tweenage Taylor herself, reminding us that we rarely hear from girls how they would like their idols to be portrayed, and that sometimes ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’ are entirely adult preoccupations.

The film will be preceded by short film Real Artists by Cameo Wood.

1.45-4pm The Love Witch + short €10 – INFO

My pick of the festival! We’re back at it with that mysticism again, this time thrust into the delightfully weird and retro world of director Anna Biller’s machinations. The Love Witch is a riot of esoteric imagery, pastel tea parties and wonderfully dark humour. The film follows the beautiful Elaine, who moves to California to start a new life after the death of her husband Jerry. Elaine is a witch, and she might have murdered Jerry with her terrible witchly ways. She’s on a mission to obtain the Perfect Man, and will stop at nothing to get him – including disposing of the men that disappoint. Released in 2016, the film was lit and shot to look like a 1960s Technicolor film, with actors playing their parts in a classic presentational acting style. The setting informs the presentation of feminism in the film, which is entirely Biller’s vision. On top of writing the script and directing the film, Biller decorated the sets, created many of the props and put together the soundtrack. Through her unwavering attention to detail, she has created a richly imagined universe, with a sensual celebration of femininity woven into the dark undercurrent of the story. Steeped in comedy and the satire of the transactional politics of sex, The Love Witch is a sublime feast for the eyes and mind.

The film will be preceded by short film Reinventing the Wheel by Elena Knox.

4.15-6pm  Gulabi Gang + short €10 – INFO

The ‘Pink Saris’ group in India was created the moment that Sampat Devi Pal picked up a stick and beat her neighbour for abusing his wife. Dedicated to protecting women from their abusers, the Pink Saris are the focus of Nishtha Jain’s award winning documentary, which also branches into examining the complex cultural, economic and social factors for women’s continued subordination to men in Bundelkhand. Sampat Devi Pal is a driving force in the film, with a fierce energy and dedication to her cause that projects from the screen. For the police, she is a troublemaker. For a younger generation of women, she embodies hope. However, Jain does not pull punches and also spends time examining the difficult balance between family and the socio-political movement. The documentary takes a hard look at the day to day realities of the women in the Pink Saris, and what is expected of them when they are forced to examine their own homes. Raw and thought-provoking, Gulabi Gang takes its audience on a journey that feels privileged, bringing us to the rarely seen ground-floor of a grass-roots resistance.

The film will be preceded by short film The Genesis by Chaerin Im.

6.15-7.35pm Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same + short €10 – INFO

All fans of Ed Wood movies and lovingly rendered low budget sci-fi are in for a treat with this heartfelt, tongue in cheek film. An official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same parodies old alien B-movies and lesbian subculture to create a wonderfully weird story of romance and government surveillance. Director Madeleine Olnek weaves a tale fuelled by pure unfettered comedy, as Zoinx meets and falls head over heels for Jane, an employee at a greeting card store. Shenanigans ensue, with Jane unaware that her new squeeze is an alien and the Men In Black appearing on the scene to monitor this other-worldly romance. The film opens with familiar sci-fi slide-whistling as the words THE LESBIANS ARE COMING! appear and a cardboard/tinfoil flying saucer scoots across the screen. Honestly, what more do you need? Clever and lovingly told, Codependant Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is a must see.

The film will be preceded by short film A Practical Guide by Sarah Devereux.

8-9.30pm Ovarian Psycos + pre-recorded introduction from the filmmakers €10 – INFO

With a name that makes you sit up and pay attention, The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade is an all women group from the Eastside of Los Angeles which fights injustice and focuses on rebuilding the community. As if they couldn’t get any more goddamn badass, rides are organized monthly on the full moon. In their documentary, Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle follow the lives of the young Los Angeles Latinas, including the group’s founder Xela de la X. She formed the group as “a refuge for the runaway, the throwaway”, a feminist community sisterhood that confronts the harassment of women. With the focus on helping women regain a sense of self after trauma, the group supports young women of colour in leadership and empowerment activities. Focusing on the member’s lives, the documentary charts how the group balance their night-lives with their daily responsibilities, how the members deal with disapproving family and the racism and violence that is pervasive in society.

Saturday Event:  ‘Making Movies – with Nora Moriarty’ – INFO

2-5pm – Workshop €7

Workshop + film screening (12pm Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model) €12

Shur lookit, I was all set to become vine famous, but as soon as I had the thing figured out, didn’t it only shut down on me? I’d say my only option is to make a movie, and Nora Moriarty is going to be a fierce help altogether. Moriarty, who has studied multimedia at Masters level and is currently a Youth Service Manager and lecturer in DCU, is hosting a hands on workshop in filmmaking. Featuring a taster in camera work using your phone, acting/presenting to camera, storyboarding, video editing, publishing and information regarding online safety, it’s a comprehensive cram-course in movie-making magic. It’s only for the 13-17 year olds, but I’m sure I’ll blend in no bother. If you want to jump in on this workshop for yourself or the budding film director in your life, email Aoife at [email protected] and use ‘WORKSHOP’ as your subject.  Let Aoife know if you’re booking for the workshop alone (€7) or the workshop and the 12pm film screening (€12). You’ll need a smartphone (with a working camera and WiFi) to take part in this workshop! And on further investigation they do seem to be fairly insistent on the whole 13-17 thing. Maybe don’t chance it.

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