Women in Film Festival

The M.V. Film Society hosting a Women in Film Festival from Friday, October 25, to Sunday, October 27, at the M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven. It looks great!

The festival features six films made between 2017 and 2019, directed by and/or produced by women filmmakers and featuring women’s perspectives on an array of issues. For more information about the films, including trailers, click here. Festival passes are $60 ($50 for Film Society members), and can be bought here. Tickets are also available for individual films.

I Am Not a Witch (Friday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m.) is a magical-realist satire about a young girl sentenced to a state-run witch camp. Young star Margaret Mulubwa has received rave reviews for her performance.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (Friday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.) marks the rediscovery of a pioneer filmmaker who had faded from sight by 1919 and has been largely forgotten. Writer-director-producer Pamela Green will be on hand for a Q&A after the film.

Sensitivity Training (Saturday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m.). Rude, crude, and unapologetic microbiologist Dr. Serena Wolfe is ordered to undergo an attitude adjustment courtesy of perpetually chipper sensitivity coach Caroline. The  two develop an unexpected bond in this “fresh and welcome spin on the classic buddy comedy.”

Paradise Hills (Saturday, Oct. 26, 8:15 p.m.). Paradise Hills is a facility, run by the mysterious Duchess, where high-class families send their daughters to become perfect versions of themselves. “With exquisite sets and costumes and a bounty of strong actresses, Paradise Hills is a fantasy confection with a dark horror center.”

A Fine Line (Sunday, Oct. 27, 4 p.m.). A behind-the-scenes look at restaurant culture with women at the helm, exploring why fewer than 7% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women. A conversation after the film will be led by Jan Buhrman of the Vineyard’s Kitchen Porch.

Atlantique [Atlantics] (Sunday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m.) This drama about young lovers separated by circumstance in Senegal won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Says BBC.com: “Dreamy yet sensual, fantastical yet rooted in uncomfortable facts, [Mati] Diop’s beguiling film may even have reinvented a genre.”

“A Taste of Honey” Rescheduled

A Taste of Honey, the eighth and last film in the Women’s Winter Film Series, had to be cancelled because of weather. It has been rescheduled for this Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. at the Edgartown library. Please join us!

This 1961 UK film was startlingly ahead of its time and has plenty to say to our own era. From the Edgartown library e-newsletter: “With its unapologetic identification with social outcasts and its sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race, Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey — based on her prize-winning play — is still a startling work of realism. Directed and co-scripted by Tony Richardson, it remains a defining film of feminist and working class cultural movements.” It stars Rita Tushingham (who won a BAFTA and a Cannes best actress award for her performance), Dora Bryan, Robert Stephens, and Murray Melvin.

Virginia Penta Munro, the Edgartown library’s program director, curates consistently excellent film series. She suggested both this one and Frida for the WWFS — excellent choices both.

Focus on Women @ MVFF

The M.V. Film Festival’s March 15–18, 2018, festival includes these four films that explore women’s lives from a variety of angles. Lots of other good stuff too! For schedule and more info: http://tmvff.org/.

In the Taliban-controlled area of Waziristan, where sports for women are decried as un-Islamic, and girls rarely leave their houses, young Maria Toorpakai defies the rules by disguising herself as a boy, so she can play sports freely. As she becomes a rising star, however, her true identity is revealed, bringing constant death threats on her and her family.

Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.

Amy Nicholson in Variety: “To young fans who’ve slapped Ginsburg’s face on T-shirts, coffee mugs and a million memes, she’s a hero, icon, and rebel, the yas queen of the judicial branch better known for Kate McKinnon’s Saturday Night Live impersonation than her hard-fought feminist victories.

“RBG colors in that knowledge gap, showcasing the Ginsburg who argued for equal rights in front of the Supreme Court before SNL was even on the air. This spry celebration reveals that the real Ginsburg is neither beast nor badass, but an even-tempered, soft-spoken mediator—not typically the traits that inspire rousing high-fives, but qualities that honor the slow, uphill slog of positive change.”

The Divine Order
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the Tribeca Film Festival, The Divine Order is set in Switzerland in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming and dutiful housewife Nora (Marie Leuenberger, winner of a Best Actress award at Tribeca) is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time job, her frustration leads to her becoming the poster child of her town’s suffragette movement. Her newfound celebrity brings humiliation, threats, and the potential end to her marriage, but, refusing to back down, she convinces the women in her village to go on strike … and makes a few startling discoveries about her own liberation.

Films to Watch Out For

While organizing the Women’s Winter Film Series, we kept learning about films that could have been included — if the series went on for a year or so. Here’s a list of some of them, so you can invite a few friends over for a home viewing — or organize a women’s film series in your own home!

Many are available for home viewing at no or low cost through CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing), a network connecting Cape & Islands libraries), Kanopy (a live-streaming service available to patrons of most Vineyard libraries), PBSNetflix, or YouTube. Contact info is given for the others. Several are available primarily through Women Make Movies (WMM), a nonprofit dedicated to the production and distribution of films by and about women. Many of WMM’s films can be purchased for home viewing for $19.95.

Note: This list isn’t comprehensive. Nowhere close. Have a film that really should be on the list? Mention it in the comments!

More Noteworthy Films by and about Women

A Better Man (2017; co-dir. Attiya Khan; “a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for all involved when men take responsibility for their abuse”; http://www.docnyc.net/film/a-better-man/)

Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004; Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential bid) YouTube (pay); Women Make Movies; PBS

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016; Jane Jacobs vs. development mogul Robert Moses) CLAMS.

The Color Purple (1985; classic adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel) CLAMS

Dolores (2017; about union organizer and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta)

Driving with Selvi (2016; dir. Elisa Paloschi; the story of South India’s first female taxi driver, a refugee from a violent marriage; http://drivingwithselvi.com/)

Eagle Huntress, The (2016; 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl fights to become the first female eagle hunter in her family). CLAMS

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (2009; documents the relationship of Edie Windsor, a pioneer in the fight for marriage equality, and Thea Spyer). CLAMS

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners (2012; about activist and radical black academic Angela Davis) CLAMS

Frida (2002; biopic about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo) CLAMS

Girls Lost (2015; gender-bending Swedish film that explores growing up female) Netflix and CLAMS

Gotta Make This Journey (1983; Featuring the pioneering a cappella ensemble of black women,Sweet Honey in the Rock) WMM

GTFO: Get the F&#% Out (2015; documentary exploring the misogyny, harassment, etc., facing women in the video game industry) Kanopy

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990 version) CLAMS; Amazon prime video; Hulu

Heather Booth: Changing the World (2017; portrait of a veteran activist-organizer) WMM

The Hunting Ground (2015; dir. Kirby Dick; documentary about sexual assault on campus; http://thehuntinggroundfilm.com/)

I Am Jane Doe (2017; sex trafficking) Netflix

Iron Jawed Angels (2004; Alice Paul and the US women’s suffrage movement) CLAMS; YouTube

Live Nude Girls Unite! (2000; documentary about the organizing efforts of strippers and support staff at a San Francisco peep show in the mid-1990s) Kanopy

Love It like a Fool (1977; short about the activist singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds [1900–1978]) YouTube

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (2017; dir. Bob Hercules & Rita Coburn Whack; documentary about the amazing memoirist, poet, and activist) PBS

Mozart’s Sister (2010; drama based on the life of Nannerl Mozart) CLAMS

Nothing Without Us: Women Who Will End AIDS (2017; dir. Harriet Hirschhorn; http://www.docnyc.net/film/nothing-without-us/)

Ovarian Psycos (2016; fierce, unapologetic and feminist young women of color in Los Angeles confront injustice, build community, and redefine identity through a raucous, irreverently named bicycle crew: The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade) WMM

The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen (2016; the lifelong journey of a black lesbian dancer activist who grew up in Boston) WMM

Radical Grace (2015; dir. Rebecca Parrish; three feminist U.S. nuns fighting against the patriarchal church hierarchy and for social justice; http://radicalgracefilm.com/)

The Revival: Women and the Word (2016; follows black lesbian poets and musicians on a several-city tour that connects them with their audiences, their families, and the black feminist legacy that sustains them) WMM

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014; documentary about the early U.S. women’s liberation movement, 1966–1971) Netflix

Sonita (2015; dir. Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami; in Iran, Sonita, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreams of becoming a rapper while trying to avoid a forced marriage) WMM

Suffragette (2015; a drama about the militant UK suffrage movement of the early 20th century) CLAMS

A Taste of Honey (1961; working-class teenage girl finds herself pregnant after being thrown out of her mother’s house; focus on her new support network/family) CLAMS

To Keep the Light (2016; Inspired by the stories of real-life women lighthouse keepers, Erica Fae’s acclaimed film focuses on Abbie, a lighthouse keeper’s wife in late 19th century Maine; http://www.tokeepthelight.com/)

To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters (2016; dir. Sally Wainwright) Netflix; CLAMS

Trapped (2016; dir. Dawn Porter; abortion providers fight back against legal restrictions; http://www.trappeddocumentary.com/)

Vessel (2014; dir. Diana Whitten; a woman’s project to offer abortions on a ship offshore evolves into something stronger) Netflix

What Doesn’t Kill Me (2017; dir. Rachel Meyrick; about survivors of domestic violence with a focus on children for whom courts give custody to abusive fathers) WMM

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015; documentary about the great singer-pianist-activist) Netflix; CLAMS

With Babies and Banners (1979; story of Women’s Emergency Brigade during a major UAW strike from December 1936 to February 1937; 45 min.) YouTube

Women’s Winter Film Series 2018

Note: The 2018 Women’s Winter Film Series introduced and re-introduced some great films to Vineyard audiences. We think it was a success! It would not have beeen possible without the support of our wonderful island libraries. Thank you all so much.

For a (growing!) list of films by and about women, many of which are available for home viewing, see Films to Watch Out For.

Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m.
Oak Bluffs library

GTFO (Get the F*ck Out)
Through interviews with developers, journalists, and academics, this film looks at the challenges that women face in the video game industry and the ways in which the industry’s diversification has spawned clashes of values.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
Oscar-winning biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose self-portraits explored issues of race, sex, class, and postcolonialism in Mexican society. Salma Hayek, who stars in the title role, recently wrote a New York Times op-ed about her extensive harassment by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Thursday, Feb. 15, 4 p.m.
West Tisbury library
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
A vibrant documentary about the exhilarating, passionate, contentious early years (1966–1971) of the modern women’s movement.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Drawing on hours of autobiographical tapes, this documentary portrays Nina Simone, the brilliant, mercurial singer, pianist, and civil rights activist dubbed the “High Priestess of Soul.” Part of the Edgartown library’s Black History Month programming.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m.
Chilmark library
The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen
A window into the life of Angela Bowen, who grew up in inner-city Boston during the Jim Crow era, and went on to become a classical ballerina, a legendary dance teacher, a black lesbian feminist activist organizer, writer and professor.

Saturday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m.
West Tisbury library
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
The first feature documentary about the amazingly versatile poet, memoirist, activist, and playwright.

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Vineyard Haven library

To Keep the Light
Inspired by true stories, a lighthouse keeper’s wife struggles with her work and her sanity as she cares for her sick husband in 19th-century Maine. The astonishing Erica Fae wrote, directed, and stars in this acclaimed 2016 film.

Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
A Taste of Honey
In this 1961 British film directed by Tony Richardson, teenage Jo is thrown out of the house when her alcoholic mother remarries. After finding a room with a gay co-worker, Jo becomes pregnant by a black sailor — and the three manage to work it out. Then Jo’s mother shows up and things get complicated.

Poster designed by Max King