Film Series at UB to Focus on Women's Struggles for Liberation

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: February 11, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "My Country is the World: Films by Women" -- The Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender's (IREWG) 7th International Women's Film Festival -- will debut Feb. 13 with a screening of the Iranian film "Two Women" at 7 p.m. in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre, 639 Main St., Buffalo.

The film festival this year will present films documenting the unrecognized role women have played in their struggle for liberation, both political and personal. The personal stories of women's resistance, as seen in the film "Will it Snow for Christmas," are intertwined with women's political struggles, as seen in films such as "Flame" and "Fidel," about the Cuban and Zimbabwean revolutions.

All films will be screened at 7 p.m. in the Market Arcade theater, with the exception of the series finale, which will feature a special fundraiser on March 29 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Suite 425, TriMain Building, 2495 Main St., Buffalo. Two films, "This is Not Living" and "Fidel," will be screened during the fundraiser, which will begin at 6 p.m.

The first film in the series, "Two Women," is director Tahmine Milani's most impressive film to date about women. She is one of the most outspoken members of an increasing number of women film directors in Iran. It is the story of Fereshteh and Roya, two happy, young, female architecture students in Tehran, whose lives take different directions. Milani attempts to portray the brutality suffered by women who question outdated patriarchal laws; in fact, she was imprisoned for her images of women.

The rest of the schedule:

o Feb. 20: "Will it Snow for Christmas," France, feature, color, 35 mm, 1996, 90 min., directed by Sandrine Veysset. Veysset's debut into film draws us into the everyday life of a woman living in extraordinary circumstances -- raising seven children in a rustic farmhouse in southern France without such fundamental amenities as heat and running water. Alone with her brood, she struggles to care for their basic needs while bringing small pleasures to their lives. However, when the despotic, volatile father shows up, the mother stands steadfast against him, giving strength and inspiration to the children. Their journey toward hope is embodied in the movement through the seasons, from summer to the inspiration offered by Christmas.

o Feb. 27: "Flame," Zimbabwe, feature, color, 35 mm, 90 min., directed by Ingrid Sinclair. "Flame" tells the story of friendship between two women comrades, Comrade Flame and Comrade Liberty, during the Zimbabwean war for independence in 1980.

o March 6: "Cet Amour-là," France, feature, color, 35 mm, 2002, 100 min., directed by Josée Dayan. Cet Amour-là depicts the unconventional relationship between celebrated French author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras and a young man who was less than half her age.

o March 20: "Murder and Murder," U.S.A., feature, color, 16 mm, 1996, 113 min., directed by Yvonne Rainer. "Murder and Murder" is an unflinching look at female aging, lesbian sexuality and breast cancer in an age and culture that glorifies youth and heterosexual romance.

o March 27: "How Nice to See You Alive," Brazil, feature, color, 35 mm, 1989, 100 min., directed by Lucia Murat. On March 31, 1964, a military coup overthrew the Brazilian government. Four years later, all civil rights were suspended and torture became a systematic practice. Using a mix of fiction and documentary, this extraordinary film is a searing record of personal memory, political repression and the will to survive. Interviews with eight women who were political prisoners during the military dictatorship are framed by the fantasies and imaginings of an anonymous character.

o March 29: "This is Not Living," Palestine, documentary, color, 2001, 42 min., directed by Alia Arasoughly, and "Fidel," Cuba, documentary, color, 2001, 91 min., directed by Estela Bravo.

Exploring the devastating effects of military occupation, terror and isolation, "This is Not Living" explores the lives of eight Palestinian women and their struggle to live normal lives amidst the degrading drama of war. Their stories challenge stereotypes of Palestinian women in the media and provide a much-needed window into an experience rarely seen in the West.

"Fidel" explores international politics from a female's viewpoint, capturing the important role of women both pre- and post- Cuban revolution.