International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors

International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors

»The work we do affects the way that we see ourselves and the way that we are seen. Women making films is a radical act. Radicals don’t ask for permission, radicals take it.«
– Ava Duvernay, Selma

It would be difficult to describe the women film directors entered for this year’s competition more aptly than US-American film-maker Ava DuVernay in the above quote. For a start, they can all look back on a long creative film career spanning years or even decades. This alone is a huge achievement considering the fact that the proportion of women directors worldwide making feature films barely exceeds 10%.

The film directors taking part in the 2015 competition have, however, managed to assert themselves. Indeed, many of them are often represented at major international film festivals. And the results speak for themselves. Once women directors have overcome the selection committee hurdle, their success is significantly higher. Małgorzata Szumowska, for example, won the Silver Bear with Body and she was one of only three women out of 23 directors in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival 2015. Likewise, when Mariana Rondon’s Pelo Malo won first prize at the San Sebastian Festival 2013, just two of the directors in competition were women, the second being Jasmila Žbanić. Meanwhile on the Croisette in Cannes, Naomi Kawase is one of the few women directors to be regularly celebrated, for which in 2015 she was honoured with the prestigious Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture. Such successes are primarily rooted in the quality of the films, consisting of unusual stories that confront the viewers with surprising perspectives, characters, developments and attitudes.

The films in this year’s competition are stunning. In Frailer, Mijke de Jong has had the courage to document the mortal illness of her friend, actress Leonoor Pauw, taking it as thestart of a fictional narrative – the story of friendship and its limits in the face of death. In Love Island by Jasmila Žbanić, you can almost feel the pleasure of genre. Following several films in which she processed the traumas of war in the Balkan region, she now confounds expectations with this screwball summer comedy. Though this is also politically justified in that she sets out to show people that life in the region is not entirely miserable and they should perhaps allow themselves some happiness after all these years. Małgorzata Szumowska also uses humorous elements as Body pushes genre boundaries with the tale of a young woman’s eating disorders narrated as black comedy.

The RWE Film Award is thus proud to present exactly those woman directors who are radical enough to have their share of the cake and challenge the conventions of film-making. The prize money of €15,000 is divided into two parts – with two thirds going to the German film distribution company to help promote cinema release in Germany. After all, the films made by women directors first have to get into the cinemas and be screened so that viewing figures can be boosted on a sustainable basis. And that, when buying their tickets at the box office, is what audience members are ultimately adjudicating on.

_Stefanie Görtz

2021: Jasmila Žbanić mit Quo Vadis, Aida? (BA/AT/RO/DE/NL/PL/FR/NO 2020)
2019: Teona Strugar Mitevska for God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya (MK/BE/SI/HR/FR 2019)
2017: Delphine and Muriel Coulin for Voir Du Pays (FR 2016)
2015: Naomi Kawase for Still The Water (JP/ES/FR 2014)
2013: Małgorzata Szumowska for In The Name Of… (PL 2012)
2011: Athina Rachel Tsangari for Attenberg (GR 2010)
2009: Maren Ade for Everyone Else (DE 2009)
2007: Andrea Arnold for Red Road (UK 2006)
2005: Keren Yedaya for Or (My Treasure) (IL 2004)


Amal Ramsis

Film-maker Amal Ramsis was born 1972 in Cairo, Egypt. While studying law, she set up the Women’s Study Centre »Ma’an« (Together). From 2002 to 2005 she studied film directing in Madrid. Three years later Ms Ramsis founded the Cairo International Women’s Film Festival, the first women’s film festival in the Arab countries. She also heads the international workshop programme Correspondence between Women. She works as a documentary film-maker, journalist and writer on the situation of Arab women and political affairs in Egypt. In her most recent documentary The Trace of the Butterfly (2014), Ms Ramsis accompanied Mary Daniel – the sister of student Mina Daniel, the hope of his generation, who was killed in 2011 – on a journey through Egypt’s revolution.

Films by Amal Ramsis (Selection)
Life 2008 | Just Dreams 2005 | Plató 2005 | Silence 2005 | Beirut Is on the Seaside 2002

Kate Kinninmont

Kate Kinninmont has worked as a television producer and director for almost 30 years, won numerous awards and is now CEO of WFTV Women in Film and Television in the UK. With over 1,400 members, WFTV is Europe’s longestserving association dedicated to the advancement of women in the film industry. Ms Kinninmont is also a member of the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA), the Royal Television Society, Women in Journalism, Directors UK, and the Royal Society of Arts. In 2014, in honour of her achievements for women in the film and television industry, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen. Kate Kinninmont will be holding the keynote speech at the discussion »Women in Men’s Domains – Do We Need Quotas?« to be organised by the RWE Vertrieb AG in collaboration with the Dortmund | Cologne International Women’s Film Festival.

Lena Stolze

Lena Stolze was born in Berlin but grew up in Vienna. After training at the Max Reinhardt Seminar, she made her debut at the Volksbühne Berlin. This was followed by engagements at the Burgtheater, the Munich Residenz Theater and the Thalia Theater in Hamburg. She has also worked at the Schauspiel Frankfurt, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg and at the Salzburg Festival. In 1982, Lena Stolze became known for her performance as Sophie Scholl in The White Rose by Michael Verhoeven, and she played the same character in Percy Adlon‘s Five Last Days. She received the German Film Award for both films. Another career highlight was her humorous interpretation of Sonja in Verhoeven‘s Oscar-nominated film The Nasty Girl. She has appeared in numerous film and television productions and is a juror for the Film Academy and the European Film Awards. Lena Stolze has three children.

Bad Hair

Mariana Rondón

VE / PE / AR / DE
Feature Film

»I wouldn’t want our film to be simply pressed into a political scheme which then has you view it not […]


Małgorzata Szumowska

Feature Film

»The body can impose terrible limits, it can become an obsession. To all intents and purposes, everything might be related […]


Mia Hansen-Løve

Feature Film

Eden is a poignant journey back to the vibrant Paris of the early1990s. With rave music dominating the clubs, a […]


Mijke de Jong

Documentary, Feature Film

What does it mean to die well? What is friendship in the face of death? When Muis learns that she […]

Love Island

Jasmila Žbanić

Feature Film

»We, the people from the Balkans tend to take our past way too seriously and are experience it in a […]

Red Rose

Sepideh Farsi

FR / GR / IR
Feature Film

»It was very important for me to make a film without any compromises. A film pure ‘to its core’ in […]


Libia Stella Gómez

Feature Film

»The indifference towards death in this story mirrors the indifference towards life, an open wound in our modern Colombia, indeed […]

Still the Water

Naomi Kawase

ES / FR / JP
Feature Film

»I would like spectators to realize that we human beings are not the centre of all things. We are but […]