A world of women on film

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A world of women on film

One of the notable surprises of the 6th Women’s Film Festival in Seoul, which will take place April 2-9, is the change of location from Daehangno to Sinchon.
Though both neighborhoods are frequented by young people hungry for dynamic cultural experiences, Sinchon is viewed by many as an alternative for those in search of a diversity of ages, classes and tastes.
The Women’s Film Festival, which first began in 1997 as a small vehicle for female directors, most of them local at the time, finally has gone mainstream, inviting over 70 films from 22 countries.
As the festival prepares to attract a broader audience, programmers have decided on Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion’s “In the Cut” as the festival’s opening film, a psychological thriller starring Meg Ryan. Ms. Ryan plays a teacher in New York who witnesses a brutal homicide.
The festival, which is roughly divided into six sections, will also feature a wide range of films about, or by, women.
“New Currents,” a mix of documentaries, animation, shorts and full-length features that have been shot by female directors within the last two years, focuses on the female body and desire, which has been one of the key subjects within the feminist academic discourse.
“Feminist Film and Video Activism” introduces directors who make films to propagate feminist activism in their regions. One of the notables from the section is Iranian director Fariba Jamail Nemati’s “Hope to Return” a documentary depicting the lives of Afghan women in social work after moving to Iran.
“Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines,” a documentary by Lisa Heptner, follows women working to restore peace in regions devastated by wars in Afghanistan, Argentina, Burundi and Bosnia, narrated by actress Jessica Lange. “Forgotten Warriors,” by Kim Jin-yeul, portrays the life of a veteran female reunification activist who proclaims that her family affairs are more difficult than her political life.
The film festival will honor Margarethe von Trotta, a veteran actress, screenwriter and notable filmmaker of the “New German Cinema,” with a retrospective of her work. One of von Trotta’s first films, “The Second Awakening of Christa Klages,” a story of a woman who becomes a bank robber to solve her child care problems, was screened during the first women’s film festival here in 1997.
The retrospective will include some of the director’s most recent feature films, such as “The Promise,” which is about teenage lovers in East Germany planning to escape to the West. Four others ― “The German Sisters,” “Rosenstrasse,” “Madness” and “Rosa Luxemburg,” a film about the late German socialist theorist, who was killed in Berlin in 1919 during the German revolution ― will also be shown.
Perhaps the festival highlight is “Asian Cinema: A Testimonial to Women in Classical Japanese Cinema,” a series of classic Japanese films from the 1930s to the 1960s that concentrates on female characters who resist patriarchal traditions. The section particularly focuses on Japanese actresses who manage to digest complex female roles but also evoke a sense of drama through the ambition and desire they possess on screen.
“Young Feminist Forum,” a new section, presents films by young feminist filmmakers; “Asian Short Film and Video Competition” features experimental films by Asian female directors.
As a special service for mothers, free child care and a playroom will be available near the festival area from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Main screening rooms will be Artreon and the Cineplex Noksaek. Tickets range from 3,000 ($2.50) to 5,000 won. There will also be midnight screenings and forums, which will be held in English. For more information contact (02) 588-5355 or www.wffis.or.kr.

by Park Soo-mee
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