The Women Diaries Film Festival featured last week nine films and documentaries that challenge current stereotypes of women, while focusing on the struggles women still face.
The festival is sponsored by the Lebanese American University’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World and the Khat al Moubachar Cine-Club, according to The Daily Star.
Women Diaries’ tone was set by its opening film The Circle, by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, which follows several women as they battle political repression through issues like abortion and prostitution.
Tuesday night offered the somewhat schizophrenic combination of Not One Less, followed by Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Not One Less, directed by Zhang Yimou, is set in the beautiful, yet poor, Chinese countryside. The film follows a teacher’s attempts to keep her students in school. Despite its Hollywood ending, the film offers staggering glimpses of China’s poverty and shows the failure of China’s new capitalism to solve any of its economic woes.
Screened on Tuesday, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown follows the somewhat comical, somewhat hysterical attempts of a recently dumped adulterous protagonist in her quest to locate her lover. Directed by Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, and highly entertaining, the film is caught somewhere between a coming of age tale and a blatant farce.
Wednesday opened with The Perfumed Garden Algerian-French director Yamina Benguigui’s look at sexuality across generations in the Maghreb. Framed between “romantic” clips from 40s Egyptian films.
It was followed by Italian director Frederico Fellini’s City of Women. While obviously the reaction of an aging philander to the rise of feminism, the film is a homage to Fellini’s obsession with women and has many amusing moments; not least is a feminist convention’s renaming of the vagina to tongue of light, or moon-violet.
The final day concluded on a darker note. American Ricardo Lobo’s Behind the Veil: Afghan Women Under Fundamentalism takes an in-depth look at women’s lives under the Taleban. It was followed by Return to the Dying Rooms a harrowing journey into China’s orphanages where the one-child-per-family policy is enforced through brutal infanticide.
The final film on offer was Ladybird, Ladybird, by British director Ken Loach, which follows a single mother in her doomed fight to keep custody over her children – Albawaba.com