2002 Women in Cinema Film Festival
feature by KJ Doughton, 15 February 2001

January is a depressingly downbeat period for most American filmgoers, what with studio sewage valves spewing their post-holiday dregs into multiplexes across the country. As Hollywood purges itself with this bitter enema, frantically marketing second-string, first-of-the-year dreck like Birthday Girl and Slackers, hardcore cinemaniacs hit the festival circuit instead. A plane ticket to Park City could land you at Sundance, Americaís most widely-publicized and chilliest festival experience. However, unless youíve booked the flight well in advance of the eventís army of airborne actors, agents, publicists, directors, and journalists (or reside in neighboring Salt Lake City), this elite Utah stomping ground of stargazing and pre-release sneak peeks might be an unrealistic choice.

Take Seattleís cinema crowd, for instance, where crummy mainstream offerings are coupled with bogus, wet weather, gray skies, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some northwest film freaks deal with this dilemma by popping liberal doses of antidepressants and washing them down with white-chocolate mochas from Starbuckís. Others beat the winter blues by attending Women In Cinema, an annual event sponsored by Cinema Seattle and featuring female-helmed motion pictures from across the globe. Many of the movies reflecting their varying shades of light from the Harvard Exitís art-house screen also depicted women in roles not typically associated with the female gender. Woman as Pornographer was the theme of Bad Girl, Woman as Romantic Aggressor embodied Rain and La Cienaga, and Woman as Outlaw dominated the Mexican landscapes of Otilia Rauda. Other uncharacteristic depictions included a disappointed dog sitter who deals with lifeís ugliness by imitating a pooch in Bark, a suicidal matron from It Should Have Been Nice After That, and Arab women damaged by misogynistic cultural traditions in Season of Men.

Meanwhile, an archival presentation of 1932ís German classic The Blue Light commemorated famed (infamous?) director Leni Riefenstahlís upcoming 100th birthday (August, 2002), and a screening of What Matters Most by late director, artist, musician, and writer Jane Cusumano benefited the University of Washingtonís Breast Care and Cancer Research Center.

Although all of Women In Filmís featured offerings were created by women, they werenít always about women. Miracle, for instance, dealt with a boyís coming of age on the streets of Denmark, while The Mark of Cain explored the predominantly male Russian prison system and the hidden meaning behind inmate body tattoos. Like the Seattle International Film Festival, its mammoth summer counterpart, Women In Cinema was much more than simply an excuse to sit in front of a screen, although Capitol Hillís Harvard Exit Theatre made for a relaxed, comfortable home base. Attendees gorged their faces at a brunch, were treated to stand-up storytelling (featuring Washington native Julia Sweeney, alumni of Saturday Night Live, star of Itís Pat, and creator of God Said, "Ha!"), and took in a regional art show entitled, "All About Eve." Meanwhile, a panel of filmmakers including Sweeney, Faye Dunaway (The Yellow Bird), Jill Sprecher, (13 Conversations About One Thing), Diana Turner (Writerís Model), Kasia Adamik (Bark), and several other talents addressed "the wonderfully diverse ways women inhabit and express their physical selves." This seventh Women In Cinema festival transported viewers on a matronly mystery tour covering features and shorts from twenty countries. Beginning on January 24th and continuing through the end of the month, Women In Cinema embraced The Body Female as its theme. Director Kathleen Murphy promised attendees "marvelous cinematic manifestations of womanflesh and spirit," and her weeklong production didnít disappoint.

Be sure to read our reports from these other film festivals as well:




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