Although open to films of all lengths and genres, Panorama does not aspire to be the representative overview. It provides instead a topical choice of approx. 40 outstanding productions that showcase the latest works by women filmmakers – from experimental shorts to full-length features. Even so, the festival team feels obliged to foster a certain artistic approach that moves away from the confines of narration. More often than not, it is social moods that the women directors capture, as they chart various microcosms and present troubling cameos which – rather like seismographs at an emotional level – give us new insights into social sensitivities in distress. It is as if we the viewers receive a filmic invitation to observe the world through the back door. In the feature films, for example, the element of crisis is often reflected in deep predicaments of a personal nature. (Francine, The Off Hours, Code Blue). This year, the women directors use narrative film structure to take a renewed interest in women characters, female protagonists whose male partners are not exactly amenable to a way out that offers any security. With relationships hardly possible any more, the characters are left to their own devices and come over as somewhat perplexed by the diffuse lack of perspective.
However, the political is not just dealt with in the private sphere. With UFO in Her Eyes, Xiaolu Guo pulls off a successful social satire that unmasks the absurdity and false promise of globalised capitalism while still making room for a utopian departure. A further nuance on this theme is provided by How to Pick Berries, a work that ironically points to the globalised structures that lead to a row about blueberries in a Finnish village. Arriving, in a figurative sense, at new places that without film we would never have discovered is one outcome of documentary film-maker commitment. Courtesy of L’Hypothèse du Mokélé-Mbembé (The Mokélé-Mbembé Hypothesis), for instance, we travel to the rainforests of South-west Cameroon and learn about the tensions that can arise between rational science and mythological belief, even if the roles are not always that clear-cut. Similarly, Tatiana Huezo Sánchez journeys with camera and taperecorder to her grandmother’s village in El Salvador. Years after the civil war has come to an end, she succeeds in El lugar más pequeño (The Tiniest Place) in giving us a deeply human and life-affirming analysis of the war’s traumatic events. And what in Oi Nymfes Tou Hindu Kush starts off as an ethnographical depiction of Kalash women takes an unexpected turn when Greek activists, the Taliban and the Kalash people begin to interact. Meanwhile, only a few women directors opt in their documentary work for such a radically personal approach as that taken by Britta Wandaogo in Nichts für die Ewigkeit (Believe in Miracles). Yet the film about her brother goes well beyond the realm of everyday banality.
The Polish documentary film (which here Panorama highlights by means of a small section of shorts) is compelling for its atmospherically tight narratives combined with great respect and affection for the protagonists. Another Panorama section is dedicated to a series of short films that use dance and performance to open up spaces out of the reach of standard narrative strategy. Last but not least, don’t miss our Short Film All-nighter which, with its sheer abundance of form and technique, is simply second to none. Furthermore the Women’s Film Festival Chile »Femcine« will present Portless, the award winner of their recent Festival.
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