There Are a Deluge of Feminist Films Screening in NYC This Month

Issue 244

Renee Feltz Mar 6, 2019

Not one woman was nominated for Best Director in the 2019 Academy Awards. But this month many festivals in NYC feature work by women, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming filmmakers. You can binge watch with a pass, or grab individual tickets and enjoy some of these highlights. 

New York International Children’s Film Festival

Thru March 17

Women directed about half the films shown over four weekends at this 21-year-old festival. It includes popular short film series such as “Girls’ POV” and the new “Boys Beyond Boundaries,” which attempts to redefine “how boys can feel, think and be.” The “Heebie Jeebies” series promises “mind-bending fantasy.” Two superhero films that are tributes to the power of imagination put girls at the center. The first feature by Likarion Wainaina, Supa Moda, centers on a 9-year-old Jo, who is terminally ill but her Kenyan village helps convince her she has special powers. “The Shadow of Cairo,” directed by Tara Shehata, tells the story of 14-year-old Maya after she decides to avenge her mother’s death. 

NYC Feminist Film Week

March 5–10

This is the third annual edition of a week of carefully curated programs organized around the theme of feminist film genealogies. The series asks: “How do feminist film practices function as forms of political and critical intervention? What strategies do they employ to unsettle and dismantle racism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, and stigmas around sexuality, illness, and dis/ability? And how do feminist film and media practitioners articulate queer, trans, POC, working class, immigrant, dis/abled, and other marginalized experiences and identities?” On International Women’s Day there are two programs, including one that examines the role of sexual politics in films by the pioneering and prolific director Alice Guy-Blanché. The next day you can see Laura Mulvey’s classic 1983 documentary, Frida Kahlo and Tina Moditti, about the two radical artists in post-revolutionary Mexico.

Black Women’s Film Conference

March 17

This inaugural gathering offers a space to focus on Black women’s voices and experiences in a white, male-dominated film industry. Hosted by MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, the mix of film screenings and talks is co-organized with a collective of Black women filmmakers called The New Negress Film Society.

Socially Relevant Film Festival New York 

March 15–21

The SRFF was launched by actor and filmmaker Nora Armani in 2014 to uplift new and compelling socially relevant narratives told without resorting to gratuitous violence and violent forms of filmmaking. It offers industry panels and most screenings include a Q&A with directors. This year kicks off with The Man Who Mends Women, about 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege. An all-women panel following the film includes Pramila Patten, the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Queens World Film Festival

March 21–31, 2019

Everyone can find something to watch among the more than 200 films from 31 countries screened here over the course of 11 days. The program has blocks with names like Worldly Vision, Cyber Alarm, It Gets Better, Local Express, Surviving Displacement, Power to the People, The Hate Card and Who Knew? A documentary by Jackson Heights native Melanie J. La Rosa called How to Power a City shows communities on the front lines of the clean energy revolution from Astoria to Puerto Rico. The Washing Society, by experimental filmmakers Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker, portrays a day in the life of laundry workers past and present and draws its name from the 1881 strike by African-American laundresses to win higher wages and gain more respect.

Konkona Sen Sharma in Lipstick Under My Burkha, screening at the NYC Feminist Film Festival this month.

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