The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

07 November 2014

IDFA: "The Female Gaze" investigates the role of women in documentary – 19-30 November 2014 (Amsterdam)

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam: "The Female Gaze"
investigates the role of women in documentary
19-30 November 2014

Senegalese Safi Faye will be among the women filmmakers in the Female Gaze program organised by IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

During the upcoming festival, IDFA will present a themed program on the role of women in documentary called The Female Gaze. The Female Gaze program will consist of a survey, a film program and discussions with the directors present.

Fifteen leading international female directors, including Pirjo Honkasalo, Barbara Kopple and Kim Longinotto, have put together a program of old and new documentaries by themselves and other female directors, renowned and less well-known.

In addition, IDFA will be investigating the share female directors have had of the festival’s own selections during the past ten years, and attention will be devoted to the question of how women are represented in documentaries and of whether a ‘female gaze’ can be said to exist within the documentary genre. 

On Saturday, 22 November, IDFA will organise a debate on the role of women for the documentary industry. 

The Female Gaze at IDFA

In recent decades, a great deal of research has been undertaken into how images of women are produced in the media. This research has focussed principally on the role of women in advertising, on television and in fiction films. This prompted IDFA to devote special attention this year to women in documentary.  The central question is whether women are (also) under-represented compared to men both in front of and behind the camera in the documentary. Does the glass ceiling exist in the documentary industry? How are women represented in documentaries, and does something like ‘the female gaze’ exist in documentaries?

IDFA asked fifteen leading female directors  from different countries to present three documentaries: one directed by themselves, one directed by a woman who has inspired them, and one by an up-and-coming female talent. The documentaries selected were made by three generations of female directors. The directors who made a selection for IDFA and will be attending the festival are: Phie Ambo (Denmark); Rakhshan Bani-Etamad (Iran); Safi Faye (Senegal/France) Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing (US); Chris Hegedus (US); Pirjo Honkasalo (Finland); Nishtha Jain (India); Barbara Kopple (US); Kim Longinotto (UK); Mercedes Moncada (Mexico); Ileana Stanculescu (Romania); Jessica Yu (US) and Jasmila Zbanic (Bosnia).

Heddy Honigmann, who this year compiles her Top 10 for IDFA, has also been asked to select three films for The Female Gaze. 
A total of 28 documentaries will be screened: classics including Portrait of Jason (1967) by Shirley Clarke and The House is Black (1962) by Forough Farrokhzad as well as films by emerging talents such as How to Pick Berries (2010) by Elina Talvensaari and Waiting for August by Teodora Ana Mihai. The latest films from a number of directors will also be shown, such as Misconception by Jessica Yu; Love is All: 100 Years of Love & Courtship by Kim Longinotto and Good Things Await by Phie Ambo.

After the screenings, the issues arising will be discussed in the various Q&As with the directors present: is there in fact a female gaze and to what extent has this gaze changed over the generations? Are films made by women different from those made by men, and are films made by women in the third world different from films made by women in the West? 

Alongside the film program and the discussions following the screenings, IDFA will also be looking at the share female directors have had of the festival’s own selection over the past ten years. On Saturday 22 November, IDFA will be organising a debate for the documentary industry, in which the question of whether this is an emancipated sector which employs as many women as men in creative, crucial decision-making roles will be raised.

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