Now in its 18th year, the Women Make Waves Film Festival (女性影展) is turning its female gaze on women’s bodies and underlining non-mainstream approaches to storytelling with a lineup of more than 75 fictional, documentary, experimental, animated and short works by female directors from around the world.
In addition to the event’s usual wide range of issues related to gender and sexuality, festival director Azed Yu (游婷敬) told the Taipei Times earlier this month that organizers had put together a selection of films under the heading of New Aesthetics in Women Cinema to acknowledge filmmakers’ attempts to explore diverse aesthetic expressions in cinema.
Selected for its unique way of storytelling, Chinese director Yang Rui’s feature debut Crossing the Mountain (翻山) is noteworthy for its distinctive use of long, static takes to portray the Wa people, who live along China’s border with Myanmar. The work’s quiet, subdued exploration of village life is ethnographically inspired in tone, while gorgeous shots of landscapes and dreamlike connections lend the work a poetic charm.
Meanwhile, reality and fantasy are deftly mixed and interwoven in Passerby #3, which tells of a 30-something housewife’s frustrated attempt to become a film director.
The emphasis on the non-conventional continues with the festival’s mini program on Barbara Hammer, a pioneer of lesbian experimental cinema in the US who was first introduced to local audiences at the festival’s 2000 edition. One of three avant-garde shorts selected from Hammer’s recent works to be screened at the festival, the Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear-winning A Horse Is Not a Metaphor (2009), is a first-person reflection on the 72-year-old filmmaker’s battle with cancer.
WHAT: The 18th Women Make Waves Film Festival 2011 (2011第18屆女性影展)
WHEN: Today through Oct. 23
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)
Admission: Tickets are NT$160 for weekday matinee screenings, NT$200 for weekday evening and weekend screenings, available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks, NTCH ticket outlets and at www.artsticket.com.tw
ON THE NET: www.wmw.com.tw
Women’s bodies take a prominent place at this year’s edition, but they are far from being the youthful, slender forms beloved in mainstream film.
For feature films, the festival is screening works, such as Rose and Im Fluss, that focus on elderly women’s lives and experiences, while on the documentary side, Women Without a Pause: A Universal Reality invited women from different cultures to discuss menopause and related issues.
To reflect this year’s adventurous nod to the avant-garde, images of bodies are further explored as a medium for creative and artistic endeavors in experimental shorts that include Phagocyte and Newly Risen Decay, in which the female body is distorted, disrupted and deformed.
Films in the festival’s Queer Family section include Daughters of God, a documentary short that examines the Thirunankais, a group of Indian transvestites in Malaysia. These Hindu devotees fund a temple where they attend weekly prayers and religious festivals. In contrast to their pious practices, when night comes many Thirunankais work the streets as prostitutes.
Mostly made by film students and young filmmakers, the 21 works selected for the Taiwan Best section showcase the new talents’ interests in various genres. The lineup includes The Pieces (小情小愛), a light-hearted short piece on youth and puppy love, and 9 Shot (第九鏡), which stars veteran actress Lu Yi-ching (陸弈靜) as a lone woman who makes a meager living by recycling cans and bottles.
Yu says the festival’s annual selection of local productions shows that both the quality and quantity of submissions have improved.