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Bird Watching

This is a guest post by Farah Damji

London’s first women only film festival, Underwire opened last night at the Kobi Nazrul centre off Brick Lane. There was a good mix of film-makers, culture vultures and a general (mixed)  viewing audience, there to watch the contributions to the representation and screen writing categories. Kat Banyard, director of UK Feminista and the epitome of  cool edge of  modern feminism gave an inspiring talk about how scheduled festivals such as this one could make an impact on the film and creative industries and will eventually foster inclusion.

The films are all written / directed / produced by women so the feminine gaze, sadly  lacking in today’s Hollywood bonk-busting boring releases, is evident. It’s the tiny details, such as the gentle tapping of a manicured fingernail on the side of a steering wheel to the rhythm of a rock-song on the car stereo as she drives to her disabled war veteran’s house in Love at the End of the World , to the sensual, repeated  shots of lip-sticked lips, soft skin, beautiful landscapes, there’s a softer visual touch through which the feminine conciousness shines.

Kat Banyard

In Mother Mine by Susan Everett, a grieving adopted woman sends a video-tape to the woman who gave her away 28 years earlier. But, in art, as in life, it isn’t all quite as simple as it appears.

Kathryn Bigelow achieved such acclaim for her film about war, outshining the “natural” for best director , her own husband and Hollywood royalty, James Cameron with his film about little blue people, she made people sit up and notice that a woman can make a “man’s film.”  Women need to be recognised for being able to produce mainstream films, attractive and marketable to both genders, regardless of the film industry’s inherent stereotypical bias towards male and furthering their achievements. Hollywood remains resolutely the last bastion of “men only” networked connections. Underwire’s dedicated founders Gabriella Apicella and  Gemma Mitchell certainly pave the way towards that, in providing a platform to female film-makers at the beginning of their careers.

So tonight, producer of various films festivals Carla McKinnon, and award-winning filmmakers Destiny Ekaragha and Lindy Heyman are in conversation with Women in Film and Television UK TONIGHT at the UnderWire Festival – 6pm at Amnesty International. Tickets £5 from the Underwire website or on the door (exact cash only)

Underwire continues  till Sunday November 21st 2010. The programme is here
For tickets click   here