Column: Hot Topics Make Virtual San Diego Women’s Film Festival As Vital As Ever


They come from Boston, China, Kyrgyzstan and Los Angeles. They are protesters for the right to abortion in Ireland and road trips in California. One of them is a hologram.

Whether they are actual journalists or imaginary visitors to a sci-fi future, all of these fierce women have a home at the 8th Annual San Diego Women’s Film Festival, where films of and about women did not. to fight for the limelight because it already belongs to them.

“If anything connects these films, it’s the centering of women and their lived experiences in the film,” said Felicia Shaw, executive director of the San Diego-based Women’s Museum of California, which hosts the annual festival.

“The female characters aren’t just the protagonist’s girlfriend. They are not peripheral to the story. They are history. It all comes down to our mission to tell untold stories of the lives of women throughout history, as well as of the women who make history today. “

As in 2020, this year’s festival is taking place virtually. All films, as well as a panel discussion, will be shown online until Sunday, September 26. And while viewers will watch from the comfort of their own screens, the films present a world of topics, perspectives and genres.

From the fictional origin story of WWII icon Rosie the Riveter (“Rosie”) to a Spanish short about an over-savvy man and sex hologram (“Polvotron 500”), the festival of this year presents documentaries, love stories, science fiction short films and offers in foreign languages.

The films were all directed by women, but the festival lineup also speaks to the wider horizons of viewers who spend a lot of quality time with their Netflix lineups.

“Moviegoers in general love a good story, and streaming has given us so much great content during the pandemic. People have probably watched more foreign language films and documentaries than they ever have, ”said Shaw. “People who love good movies can see the craftsmanship these women bring to their work and appreciate it just for the great art that it is.”

While the Women’s Film Festival is dedicated to the celebration of cinema, it is also very important for the importance of changing the film industry.

According to recent studies by Martha Lauzen of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, the percentage of women working as directors on the top 250 grossing films in the United States has increased from 9% in 1998 to a disappointing 18% in 2020. The percentage of women working in behind-the-scenes roles as writers, producers, editors and filmmakers has increased from 17% in 1998 to 23% in 2020.

The numbers are still small, but they are getting bigger and bigger. When the 2021 Oscar nominations were announced in March, the Best Director category had two nominees, an Oscar first. One of those nominees – “Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao – actually won.

And in Lauzen’s most recent report on Women in Independent Films, the percentages of women working in all behind-the-scenes roles were at an all-time high.

So when Tonya Mantooth of the San Diego International Film Festival joined filmmaker Michelle Gritzer (“GLOW”, “Veep”) for the festival’s virtual roundtable on “The Status of Women in Cinema,” Mantooth had encouraging news for filmmakers and festival-goers. look alike.

“Doors open on the fly. I have colleagues who call me now and say, “I need a showrunner or a producer, and I only want one woman,” said Mantooth, CEO and Artistic Director of the International Festival from the San Diego movie.

“It absolutely came from the explosion of the #MeToo movement and the backlash around sexism in the industry. Everyone woke up and things changed very quickly. It translated to, “Now we want an industry that looks different. I think women bring a different kind of storytelling, and they bring a different view than men. I think it’s important to see both.

Films showing at the 8th Annual San Diego Women’s Film Festival include:

” The 8th ” : A 2020 documentary on Ireland’s campaign to lift its near-total constitutional ban on abortion. Directed by Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy and Maeve O’Boyle.

“Blue Moon”: A short film that follows two young women as they find love on a magical night in LA. Directed by Emily Ruhl.

“Ala Kachuu”: A young woman in Kyrgyzstan is the victim of a bride kidnapping. A short film directed by Maria Brendle.

“Pink”: Who was Rosie the Riveter? This short film tells us the fictional origin story of the inspirational WWII poster icon. Directed by Tessa Germaine.

“Buttball”: A fifth-grader discovers that being a girl in a boy’s world is no game in this short film by Maryll Botula.

The 8th Annual San Diego Women’s Film Festival will screen 22 films and the Status of Women in Cinema panel until Sunday, September 26. The closing festival brunch and awards show will air Sunday at 10:00 am A virtual pass covering all films is $ 15. Individual movie streams cost $ 5 each.


About Monty S. Maynard

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