A new film festival is launching in Melbourne this week, the Melbourne Women in Film Festival.
The Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) celebrates Australian female filmmakers. All the films screened at the festival are made by Australian women, including several Melbourne based filmmakers. The festival also incorporates panels and Q&As with females in the screen industry.
“We really want the festival to have a positive feeling looking to the future of women’s filmmaking in Australia. It’s all about celebrating and showcasing the talented women we have working in our industry,” says Sian Mitchell, founder and Festival Director.
Sian is a Senior Lecturer in Film at SAE Creative Media Institute, who was initially looking for an outlet for her female students to exhibit their work. She also wanted to gain a better understanding of women currently working in the industry.
“My hope was to provide examples of Australian women working in areas that don’t get the recognition or visibility they deserve to my students and other female film students in Melbourne.
However, it became clear that I needed a team to make it happen and found the support of some great women I knew from Monash University to form a core operational team,” says Sian.
MWFF will be launched this year as a mini-festival before looking to establish a larger festival in 2018. This year’s festival will be held over two days; it will pay homage to some of the Australian women whose films screened at the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival.
“After reading through their original program, it was clear to me that holding a retrospective of 1975 was the right way to go, mainly because of the issues raised around women’s filmmaking in the program.
What struck me were the similarities between how women’s filmmaking was discussed in the 70s and how it is being discussed today – the under-representation in the industry and the way in which women are presented on screen.
So, the aims and concerns of the 1975 festival still hold relevance today, but then, of course, that raises a question as to why?” Sian says.
MWFF aims to support local creators by providing women with opportunities to screen their work at the festival and in front of an audience. The festival will also focus on ways women can find work in the industry and aims to be a strong advocate for change.
The panel Between 1975 and Today: What have we learned about women’s filmmaking, will look back on the similarities faced by women working in film in the 1970s and asks how far have we come?
“It’s a way of looking at the issues and reasons around women’s filmmaking that spawned the 1975 festival and tracing the cycles of women’s film initiatives since then, through the 80s, 90s and through to today.
We’re in yet another cycle of initiatives with things like Screen Australia’s Gender Matters, and the imbalance is such a prevalent topic again, it seemed like a good time to look back to see how we could move forward.”
Melbourne Women in Film Festival will be held at the Treasury Theatre from 3-4 March. Visit their website for all the details.