Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 16 News List

Different movies, but the same wavelength

The annual Women Make Waves Film Festival continues to explore feminism and issues related to sexuality, with a special focus this year on South Korean filmmakers



Steve Haworth, a filmmaker in Vancouver, turned the camera on himself and his family when he decided to undergo a long process that saw him become Gwen.

Kyle, a 15-year-old girl living near Austin, Texas, reveals the everyday discrimination she has to deal with as one of the more than 10 million children with gay or lesbian parents in the US.

These are two of the stories moviegoers will see at the Women Make Waves Film Festival (WMW, 女性影展), now in its 15th year. In addition to its annual highlighting of a wide breadth of issues related to gender and sexuality, this year’s event also turns the spotlight on female filmmakers in South Korean noted for their diverse styles and polished productions.

Selected films in the festival’s Body, Family and Desire section reflect and reexamine how the traditional familial structure and legal and social systems have been either fundamentally changed or challenged in the face of diverse sexual landscapes. Queer Spawn takes an intimate and revealing look at the lives of teenagers who have lesbian or gay parents in the US. Oscar-winning documentary Freeheld chronicles Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s struggle to transfer her pension to her lesbian partner after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. The most moving moments in the film take place in the courtroom, where straight male police officers all come out to fight for their dying colleague.

Through one-on-one interviews, archival family footage and animation, She’s a Boy I Knew goes far beyond a mere account of director Gwen Haworth’s biological transition from male to female. The emotionally charged film candidly shows the frustrations, fears, angers, understanding and support experienced by Haworth and her parents, sisters and wife. It allows audiences to come close to a transsexual’s life and to question our underlying assumptions about gender identity.


WHAT: The 15th Women Make Waves Film Festival 2008 (2008第十五屆女性影展)

WHEN: Today to Oct. 26

WHERE: Shin Kong Cineplex, Taipei (台北新光影城), 4F and 5F, 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號4-5樓)

TICKETS: NT$150 for weekday matinee screenings; NT$200 for weekday evening and weekend screenings, available through NTCH ticket outlets or at


Two women directors take a road trip across the US in Bi the Way, trying to seek answers to the question of whether bisexuality is just a passing fad. One of the witnesses they locate believes that for the younger generation, choosing to be bi, gay or straight is like deciding to have Chinese or Italian food for dinner.

Feminism and other women-related subjects are explored in films such as We Want Rose Too, a visually striking documentary that mixes animation, historical footage and television commercials to examine the changes brought by the sexual revolution and feminist movement in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s. Over the Hill, meanwhile, shows how the beauty industry in Los Angeles sets standards not only for women’s faces and figures but for more intimate parts of their bodies as well.

On the fictional side, multiple award-winning Mermaid by Russian director and writer Anna Melikian is a whimsical and dreamlike tale about the journey of Alisa, a girl with magic powers, from her seashore shack to Moscow. The story is entertainingly well-scripted and enriched by an imaginative visual sensibility.

Artemisia (艾草), by Taiwan’s young filmmaker Chiang Hsiu-chiung (姜秀瓊), is a well-executed drama on Ai-tsao, a representative of the first generation of career women in Taiwan, who strives to adapt to an ever-changing society and make peace with her children who have been raised with values and world views different from her own.

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