Film Festival Spotlights Women Worldwide

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: January 13, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For the 10th year running, the University at Buffalo's Gender Institute will present an International Women's Film Festival as a way of highlighting both worthy artists and worthy issues often ignored in the mainstream of American culture.

"As I understand it, it has always been a kind of town-gown affair," Barbara Bono, co-director of the Institute for Research & Education on Women & Gender (IREWG), said of the festival. "It came out of a collaborative interest of film lovers here at the university and film lovers in the community."

Bono said that in some previous years, one particular film has stood out as the festival's highlight, but this year she is more proud of the selection committee's rigor and the number of films reviewed before choosing those that would be screened.

Each year, she said, a director speaks about her work as part of the film's presentation. This year, that director will be Ligy Pullappally, who will speak about her film, "Sarcharram," which translates to "The Journey." Also special to this year's festival is a 10th-anniversary celebration in which 10 short films by UB faculty members and graduate students will be screened. The evening will be called "Ten on Ten: Born In Frames," she said.

Bono said the festival remains important in a culture where films from other countries -- and those directed by women -- are so rarely shown. Most, but not all, of the films to be shown during the festival were made by women, she said.

"It very much highlights the underrepresented and unacknowledged work of women directors and the quality and interest of international film," she said.

Films in the series will be shown at 7 p.m. each Thursday, beginning Jan. 19 and ending March 2, in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Center, 639 Main St. in downtown Buffalo. Tickets cost $7.50 for general admission, $5.50 for students with ID and $5 for seniors and Hallwalls members. For more information, call 829-3451 or visit http://www.genderbuffalo.org/content/view/30/26//.

The schedule for the film festival and a description of the films:

• Jan. 19: "The Holy Girl/La Nina Santa," Argentina, 2004, directed by Lucrecia Martel. A chance encounter between Amalia and Dr. Jano, who is attending a medical conference at her family's hotel, allows the young girl to at last fulfill her secret mission: to save one man from sin. Dr. Jano becomes caught up in Amalia's web of good intentions and the respected doctor finds his world is on the brink of collapse when her adolescent obsession sets off a chain of social catastrophe. Understanding the temptation of good -- and the evil it causes -- "La Nina Santa" explores themes of sin, frustration and desire.

• Jan. 26: "Red Doors," English/Chinese with English subtitles, 2005. "Red Doors" tells the story of the Wongs, a bizarrely dysfunctional Chinese-American family living in the New York suburbs. Ed Wong (Tzi Ma) has just retired and plots to escape his mundane life. However, the tumultuous, madcap lives of his three daughters change his plans.

• Feb. 2: "The Journey/Sarcharram," India/USA, 2006, directed by Ligy Pullappally. It was on an auspicious day -- the day of Kiran's arrival from Delhi, and the wedding day of Delilah's eldest brother -- that the two girls first meet as children. Although they couldn't be more different, they become fast friends. Delilah (Shrruiti Menon) blossoms into a fiery irreverent beauty with the unconditional love of her grandmother, and despite the controlling eye of her hard-working widowed mother. Kiran (Suhasini V. Nair) as the only child of an intellectual father and aristocratic mother matures into an introspective young woman. Theirs is an idyllic life of family and community, and most of all an enduring friendship. But when Kiran comes to terms with the fact that her physical attraction to Delilah is something she can no longer suppress, her once idyllic and familiar world is shattered. Kiran and Delilah will come to learn that it is their life's journey, both enchanting and heartrending, that will forge the women they ultimately become; most importantly, it is through the journey that they will come to know who they are.

• Feb. 9: "The Syrian Bride," Israel, 2004, directed by Eran Riklis. Mona's wedding day was the saddest day of her life. She knew that once she crossed the border between Israel and Syria to marry Tallel, she never would be able to go back to her family in Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The story of Mona's wedding day portrays all those gathered for the wedding -- the family, led by Hammed, a strong-headed political activist; government officials; soldiers; police officers; Red Cross workers: Druze; Syrians; and Israelis -- but focuses on Mona's older sister Amal, a modern woman trapped in tradition she wants to break away from.

• Feb. 16: "Take My Eyes/ Te Doy Mis Ojos," Spain, 2003, directed by Iciar Bollain. One winter night, Pilar (Laia Marull) runs away from home. She takes only a few belongings and her son, Juan (Nicolas Fernandez Luna). Antonio (Luis Tosar) soon sets out to look for her. He says Pilar is his sunshine and what's more, "She gave him her eyes." Throughout the story of "Take My Eyes," Pilar rewrites a marriage agreement in which nothing was right. Where it said "home," there was hell. "Love" was pain and the person who promised "protection" brought only terror. But a change in part of the text alters the rest, maybe even tearing it to shreds.

• Feb. 23: "Electric Shadows/Meng Ying Ton Nian," China, 2004, directed by Xiao Jiang. One evening after work, a young man named Dabing crashes into a pile of bricks in an alleyway while racing to the movie theatre on his bike. As he's picking himself up, a young woman named Ling Ling takes a brick and hits him on the head. He winds up in the hospital, where he learns that Ling Ling also is being treated -- in the psychiatric unit for attacking him. When Dabing confronts Ling Ling, she asks him to go to her home to feed her fish. He does so and is amazed to discover that the woman's room is a virtual shrine to the movies, crammed with posters, stills and memorabilia. There he finds her diary and begins reading about a life filled with a passion for the movies that they share in more ways than one.

• March 2: "Born in Frames: 10 for 10." Ten Western New York filmmakers will present 10 original shorts, 10 minutes in length, for the 10th anniversary of the International Women's Film Festival. The artists are Julie Perini; Swati Bandi and Ruth Goldman, students in the Department of American Studies; Stefani Bardin, a student in the Department of Media Study; Holly Johnson, Rosalind Peters and Carolyn Tennant, adjunct instructors in media study; Meg Knowles, equipment and facilities manager, media study; Elizabeth Knipe, instructor and student in the MFA program, Department of Media Study; and Caroline Koebel, assistant professor of media study.