While the big-budget international film showcases such as the Golden Horse Film Festival (金馬影展) and Taipei Film Festival (台北電影節) have moved towards the art-house mainstream, the Women Make Waves Film Festival (女性影展), now entering its 13th year, has positioned itself as a platform for filmmakers on the fringe. Taking women and arts as this year's theme, the event moves further towards the avant-garde with a stunning lineup of experimental and hybrid films by and about cross-over female artists who strive to advance new cinematic techniques and forms.
Passionate about the flowering hybrid arts, festival director Christine Tsui-hua Huang (黃翠華) wants to introduce interdisciplinary art forms to the populace through cinema.
“When two art forms collide new energy is inevitably produced, leading to new forms and breakthroughs,” said the Huang, who believes the film festival should provide education on topics that are overlooked in Taiwan. “The acceptance of and taste for experimental cinema can be cultivated, and the first step is to expose people to what has been previously unknown to them.”
The festival's opening party, to be held at Huashan Cultural Park tonight at 9pm, will celebrate the union between cinema and other art genres by showcasing Israeli-Canadian photographer, installation artist and filmmaker Elle Flanders' double channel projection entitled Bird on a Wire, which will be accompanied by live music. The projected images were selected and rearranged from the artist's award-winning feature documentary Zero Degrees of Separation, the festival's closing film, that takes a sober look at the conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians as experienced by Israeli-Palestinian gay couples.
The Vitality of Hybrid Cinema program brings a group of works that are usually exhibited in museums and art galleries into the theater. Tooba by acclaimed Iranian artist Shirin Neshat is a poetic short on gender and ethnic conflicts translated from the artist's installation works. Malaysian filmmaker Au Sow-yee's Tristes Tropiques presents a unique cinematic experience in which Au puts on a live performance in front of two 16mm projectors.
The program also presents an array of works that challenge existing views on what a film should be. Model-turned-photographer Sarah Moon from France employs stylistic still images in the fairytale-like shorts The Red Tread and Circus. Disque 957, by the pioneer of experimental cinema and film theorist Germaine Dulac, is a filmic essay on the artist's search for an alternative cinematic aesthetic.
The female avant-garde spirit can be found in its most illuminated form in the opening film, a compilation of experimental video works by Maria Kolnaris and Katerina Thomadaki, who, since the 1970s, have been leading figures of the French avant-garde film scene. Selected from the pair's The Angle Cycle, an ongoing project comprised of over 30 sound pieces, photo-sculptures, multimedia performances, digital animations, video works and radio broadcasts, the shorts demonstrate the concept of “cinema of the body” first introduced by the two versatile artists and film theorists.
The works are subversive takes on the human body and sexuality and philosophically reflect on the collective memory of the 20th century through the hermaphroditic figure in the anti-war manifesto Requiem for the 20th Century or through the intermingling of a human body with stellar bodies in the cosmogonic series Quasar and Pulsar.