Wednesday, 22 April 2009

[175] International Women's Festival - Dortmund | Cologne

Starting today is the Internationales FrauenFilmFestival in Dortmund and Cologne. Here is my festival preview feature from this month's issue of Film and Festival Magazine. To see the nicely edited, formatted version from the magazine itself, click here.


Internationales FrauenFilmFestival Dortmund|Köln (Dortmund and Cologne International Women's Festival)

21-26 April

Coming late in April is the Dortmund and Cologne International Women's Festival, or the FrauenFilmFestival. Shared between the two cities in the North Rhine-Westphalia state of western Germany, the festival was created after a merger between the Feminale and Femme Totale festivals. This year, it is screening over 100 films in its 6 days, and is focusing on the central topic of freedom as discussed in contemporary and classic films directed by women filmmakers.

This central topic spins out into a number of more specialised programmes, such as the Inner Freedom section, which seeks to engage with the ideals behind notions of freedom. As part of this section, the festival will be screening Marianne Chaud's documentary Himalaya, La Chemin du Ciel (Himalaya, Path to the Sky), which presents the life of a young boy who leaves his family to return to his former life's calling as a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas. In the Unter Kontrolle section, the festival will turn its attentions to institutions, and their influence on experience, with screenings of Daniella Marxer's Zuoz, about life in a stiflingly-elite Swiss private school, or Julia von Heinz's Standesgemäß (Noble Commitments), about the restrictive structures of marriage for women in the aristocracy.

These contemporary films will be featured alongside classic-oriented selections, such as Films of the 1960s and Feminist Classics. Another programme is concerned with experimental films by women filmmakers, such as Yoko Ono's Freedom, Valie Export's Tapp- und Tast-Kino (Tap and Touch Cinema) and Carolee Schneeman's Meat Joy, all of which negotiate the relationships between performance, cinema, and the human form.

The festival will also highlight works of cinema that discuss the notion of borders, such as Frozen River by American writer-director Courtney Hunt. The film, which tells of the lives of two single mothers, separated by cultural boundaries, who live near and live off the American-Canadian border, has been celebrated at many festivals and awards ceremonies since its release in 2008, notably receiving the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and garnering two Academy Award nominations. The theme of boundaries will also form the centre of the FrauenFilmFestival's main conference, titled 'Crossing the Border - Transcultural Perspectives and Women's Film', a two day symposium organised by the film studies department at the Johannes Gutenberg University in nearby Mainz.

In line with tradition, the FrauenFilmFestival will be handing out its own awards, such as the International Feature Film and the National Director of Photography prizes, which aim to praise the work of the next generation of women filmmakers. The festival's programme is filled out with unique and interesting events, such as a live concert by the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, who will perform music while backed by silent movie clips, and the A Wall Is A Screen event, a guided cinematic tour through Dortmund, with periodic pauses as short films are projected onto walls throughout the city.

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