Glimpse into Berlin Feminist Film Week 2017


The Berlin Feminist Film Week is back for the fourth time with a week packed with feminist films, workshops, discussions and a party. This year we will return to Babylon as our opening screen before moving the festival to AGORA Rollberg, which will be our main hub for the week. The week will end with a party at ACUD.

The Berlin Feminist Film Week, founded in 2014, is a film festival dedicated to the exploration of feminist topics through cinema. We have made it into our mission to challenge patriarchal storytelling and put forward characters that stand out from the hegemony of white cis-men. Female, queer non-binary, trans and PoC characters are often left playing and acting as supporters in the film industry and the development towards equal representation is slow. We want to create a platform for those who make films, that do not fit into the Hollywood norm and for the cinema-goers who do not feel represented in the images reproduced by mainstream cinema.

Program

This year’s program includes the documentary Hooligan Sparrow, which follows filmmaker Nanfu Wang as she documents the life of feminist activist, Ye Haiyan aka Hooligan Sparrow, in her fight against the Chinese regime. Ahang Bashi’s self-biographic documentary Fragility captures life with panic attacks and anxiety in all its nudity and takes us back to her childhood and the flight from Iran, a life event that had a bigger impact on her anxiety than she realized. Anna Biller’s tribute to 60s technicolor, The Love W itch, mixes fantastic cinematography with an exploration of female fantasy and repercussions of narcissism. Special guest Cecile Emeke explores the experiences and narratives of Afro-European people in her documentary series Strolling. She will attend this year’s festival to share her work and narratives with us.

The following films are part of this year’s program, full festival will be released soon.

Below Her Mouth Canada 2015 | 92 min
April Mullen

One of the boldest and sexiest dramas of the year, April Mullen’s Below Her Mouth tells the story of an unexpected romance between two women whose passionate connection changes their lives forever. Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a successful fashion editor living with her fiancé, Rile (Sebastian Pigott). On a night out in the city with her best friend, she meets Dallas (Erika Linder), a roofer recently out of a relationship. Jasmine is taken by surprise when Dallas confidently hits on her; she turns Dallas down, but can’t get her out of her head. Dallas continues her cool, self-assured advances. In a matter of days, Jasmine succumbs and the two women embark on a steamy affair. It feels like a fantasy world compared to Jasmine’s life and plans with Rile, but soon reality rears its head, and she will have to face the profound changes their sudden romance has wrought in her.


Below Her Mouth is a rarity in more than one way: it’s a fiction film shot with an entirely female crew, and it’s an uncommonly frank look at the all-encompassing nature of attraction — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the transcendendent.

Hooligan Sparrow China / USA 2016 | 84 min
Nanfu Wang

The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.


Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.

The Love Witch USA 2016 | 120 min
Anna Biller

Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her Gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, leaving her with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder.


With a visual style that pays tribute to Technicolor thrillers of the ‘60s, The Love W itch explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism.

Fragility Sweden 2016 | 73 min
Ahang Bashi

In the peak of her career documentary filmmaker Ahang Bashi falls down in a deep gorge of panic attacks and depression.


With a skin deep precision, beautiful imagery and a black humor she carries the viewer into the swirling world of anxiety, sometimes dark and sometimes hopeful. With the camera as her tool she brings us back in time to the escape from Iran and the little girl who did not understand.

No Kids For Me, Thanks ! Canada 2016 | 74 min
Magenta Baribeau

This DIY author documentary at the crossroads between an anthropological essay and a personal quest delves into the reality of Western women who’ve decided not to have children. The filmmaker traveled to France, Belgium and across Québec (Canada) to meet with child-free women, aged 30 to 70, in order to understand their life choices.


No Kids for Me, Thanks! explores common myths about child-free women as well as the insidious pronatalist social pressure that operates in Western society by giving a voice to a segment of the population that is rarely heard and that remains somewhat foreign to their peers. This documentary addresses more than the issue of non-motherhood and examines the role of women in society in 2015.

Ovarian Psycos USA 2016 | 75 min
Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-LaValle

Riding at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color.


The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence.

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