This year at GlobalGirl Media Film Festival, we are showcasing the work of 36 young filmmakers, including films by women from 16 countries, and whose work has been selected from over 150 submissions, from 30 countries across the globe. That’s why we call ourselves GlobalGirl! Of this year’s shortlisted filmmakers, 4 of them sit down to speak with GlobalGirl Emma Dodgson, about what inspired their films, discussing sexual harassment and abuse, and how these experiences can be authentically shown through film. We asked what inspired their ideas for such impactful films, and how they came into their own styles and approaches when dealing with such sensitive real-life topics.
Urmi Banerjee and Indian filmmaker brought us an animation Afloat (2020) that highlights the pain that comes with growing up in the turmoil of something as pain-inflicting as domestic abuse. She opened up briefly about a memory from her upbringing, how her house help would come over with her son and speak of domestic abuse at home. This is what inspired the film, as Urmi wanted to do something to highlight these issues, as she’d never been able to during her younger years. We found out why she chose the animated form, and why it was Charles Bukowski, a white male poet who painted the voice of a woman in the film, as Urmi reimagines his poem, A Smile to Remember. Bukowski tells readers, ‘…my father continued to beat her, and me. Several times a week, while raging inside his 6ft.2 frame, because he couldn’t understand what was attacking him from within’. “The art has its own soul”, says Urmi. Bukowski being a white male does not take away from its message. It just shows that anybody can experience violence, no matter who you are. At GGM, we can only agree and suggest that perhaps this also makes the film more accessible to all. For Urmi, learning animation allowed her to create a world that was previously inaccessible. Filming and editing equipment weren’t the easiest to come by, so she improvised finding more creative freedom. It also added another layer to the film, with the merging of two voices to tell a story many people can relate to. This is a creative and poetic piece, that is worth the watch.
The Museum (2020) is a satirical short directed by Céline Floyd which amplifies through a virtual tour, the normality of women’s bodies not feeling like their own at some point in their lives. The opening shot shows us a room with body parts as statues in a museum, ‘…where we will explore different rooms where you, as a woman were made to feel as your body wasn’t yours. As well as metaphorical depictions of these.’ Whether it be your first kiss, or a difficult experience where there was no consent offered, The Museum displays these scenarios through 5 different rooms. The satire of this piece was explained by Céline as a way to speaking to a wider (predominantly male) audience without them feeling personally attacked or called out, as well as not bringing something too depressing to her viewers. She made the interesting point that, maybe if someone can understand the issue through humour, and potentially find that they have been a perpetrator, it means that her film can prompt change. Not using real characters eliminated the opportunity for viewers to become consumed by pity, allowing us to watch with perhaps a more open mind. It has once again been brought to public awareness and news stories that this kind of behaviour and demeanour of some men is still a problem, and always has been. Which is one of the reasons why we chose Céline’s film to showcase at our festival.
Mariella Santibáñez Kore, a German-Chilean filmmaker raised between Berlin and Manchester, also amazed us with her film The Procedure (2019). Mariella’s short was inspired by her true story, of a time when she needed a student visa to travel and was denied it by the man at the office because he wanted to go on a date with her. Mariella told us today that through making this film, she was able to react to a previous incident of sexual harassment and abuse in a way she was unable to at the time. She tells the story of a single mother named Anita who had emigrated from Venezuela with her son and needed a visa to be able to continue working. This literal depiction of harassment, abuse and blackmail were given on screen, highlighting the lawlessness of systems that are supposed to help us. In this case, immigration. Anita is presented in front of a backdrop of rich fruit and vegetables, perhaps symbolism is at play here, the loud fruits referring to her power as a woman, against the darkness of reality she faced. Mariella authentically captured on screen Anita’s story, and that of many other women who have experienced similar encounters. We whole-heartedly agree with one of our trusted festival jurors, Maya Sfakianaki, that ‘this is ‘a fantastic film, with brilliant performances – it will make you feel absolutely revolted.’ It gives us more of a reason to challenge these normalities, encouraging women in media to take back control of our narratives.
Run Amok (2019), by Spanish filmmaker Gala Díaz Fernandez is a film about revenge. At the age of 19, Gala witnessed through shocking news headlines, the aftermath of a violent sexual attack on an 18-year old girl by five men. This invoked exasperating feelings of anger in Gala, pushing her to later make her film Run Amok, which is to behave in a violent or uncontrolled way. Like Mariella, Gala felt that her film was a way for her to reclaim her power and voice, re-enacting how she would have reacted to this violence on women if she could. With consideration of law and reason, these actions could only be imagined through film with her use of characters and narrative. We are introduced to three young women and are taken with them to a nightclub where they meet a group of men and decide to go home with them. That’s when gender stereotypes are misplaced. The prominence of music throughout this piece really helps carry the pace and the imagination of the viewer, wondering where the girls will end up and leading us to a profound and precise ending.
Looking at all of these films and their messages, there are evident recurring themes and issues that bring them all together. Feminism in film can take many forms, as seen in action by the filmmakers we spoke with yesterday. The undeniable relevance of the films also highlights how much needs to be done in society, so it is important that as filmmakers, we portray our messages in the best way possible. This is why we do what we do here at GlobalGirls Media, and it gives us great pleasure to present these talented filmmakers to open up the space for important conversations such as these.
How else can we encourage change through our work, and our actions? You can catch up with our host Emma, and all of the filmmakers mentioned on our Past Sessions page, where you’ll be able to hear more of what the filmmakers think.
Let us know what you think in the comments or tweet us at @GGMediaUK.
If you’d like to find out more about these films, and the range of other films we are showing, head to our Short Films page, where you can access all of the shorts featured at this year’s GGMFF with a festival pass.
Join us this evening at 6PM GMT for our awards ceremony.
Written by Kayla Marie Troy