The much-anticipated China Women's Film Festival (CWFF), or re-titled as the Baturu International Cultural Festival this year, returns to Beijing tomorrow with a slew of films that bring to light the myriad of struggles, injustices and triumphs women, as well as LGBT+ communities, encounter all over the globe. Featuring 19 films from some 15 countries made by or about women, this year's international programme is packed with thrilling choices for every taste. Here're eight highlights from this year's line-up.
Note: Links to registration for film screenings varies from venue to venue. For the full schedule and locations, visit the official China Women's Film Festival website at https://chinawomensff.net/.
On Her Shoulders (2018)
Documented by award-winning New Mexican cinematographer Alexandria Bombach, it traces the extraordinary journey of Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad, a Nobel Peace laureate who survived genocide and sexual violence committed by ISIS. The documentary takes viewer through her personal trauma, resilience and strength as she relives her story to the world, finding herself thrust onto international stage as the voice of her communities, and learns how to navigate bureaucracy, fame and people's good intentions in public and private.
Bixa Travesty (2018)
Winner of the Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, the film is a raw portait of Linn da Quebrad, a black trans woman, performance artist and activist living in impoverished São Paul. Regarded as a powerful Latin American voice in defying gender norms, the protagonist uses her body as a medium to confront and subvert the heteronormative machismo in Brazil. In giving electrifying performances on stage singing, rapping, and dancing (with plenty of nudity), she delivers message of social resistance and inclusion.
Working Women (2018)
Directed by acclaimed Israeli documentary and narrative filmmaker Michal Aviad, Working Women tells a strikingly relevant and global tale in the #MeToo era. The story focuses on Orna, a hardworking, talented and ambitious mother of three children with a husband struggling to keep his new restaurant afloat. To help support her family, she lands a job with a successful real estate developer. While Orna embraces her career and tries to balance its demands with her home life, she begins to experience escalating sexual harassment from her boss.
Initially banned in Kenya for its portrayal of queer romance, Rafiki depicts a tender love story between two teen girls, Kena and Ziki in Nairobi. Despite being told that ‘good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives’ and the political rivalry between their families, they both yearn for finding their truth and encourage each other to pursue their dreams. However, as their friendship progresses into something more, they must choose between happiness and safety in a conversative society.
Ask for Jane
A fictionalised account of the underground abortion group in Chicago in 1960's, the film tells the tales of Jane Collective, founded by a network of determined female college students, who operate like spies with code names and blindfolds to offer access to safe and illegal abortions, as well as birth control to women in need. It began as a pregnant student at the University of Chicago attempts to take her own life but are saved by friends who find a doctor willing to perform the procedure in secret.
Based on the true story of the French novelist and directed by award-winning British director Wash Westmoreland, it follows the story of young author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who is overshadowed and pushed by her successful writer husband Willy to ghostwrite for him in the Paris. However, as she brings success and fame for Willy after penning a novel for him that becomes a bestseller and a cultural sensation, she becomes determined in making herself known and reclaiming her creative ownership, which defies gender norms, and drives her to overcome societal constraints and revolutionise literature.
Daughters Of Cynisca (2019)
Named after the Greek princess of Sparta – the first woman in history to win at the ancient Olympic Games – Daughters Of Cynisca is a documentary film about gender equality in sports. Featuring various successful females athletes sharing their personal tales, it reflects the inequality as well as progress and what's yet to be done in the sports world to change the society that are anchored in values that have become obsolete.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens 'struggling with same-sex attraction.' At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious 'de-gaying' methods, and earnest Christian rock songs – but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts.