This year’s Vancouver International Women in Film Festival runs from Wednesday (March 8) to next Sunday (March 12) at the Vancity Theatre. To help you navigate the almost 50 short and full-length feature screenings, we've nailed down a few of our favourites.
Where to, Miss?
The bustling, bumper-to-bumper roads of Delhi may seem a world away from Canada, but the lived experiences of the women there depicted in Manuela Bastian’s Where to, Miss? feel uncomfortably close to home. Women are considered inferior to men; the male-dominated streets are branded dangerous, yet it’s the responsibility of women to protect themselves at all costs.
So when Devki, a young Indian woman, expresses her interest in becoming a taxi driver—defying the expectations of both her family and community—it’s easy to root for her through the twists and turns. Beautiful cinematography and a booming title track help elevate the film from your run-of-the-mill doc to a deeply affecting display of the courage it takes to chase your dreams—even if it means getting a little lost along the way.
Vancity Theatre, March 9 (9 p.m.)
> Lucy Lau
A Revolution in Four Seasons
Focusing on the parallel lives of two female activists responsible for shaping the future of newly democratic Tunisia, director Jessie Deeter skillfully weighs the opposed views of Emna, a secular woman pushing for a culture like France’s, and Jawhara, a staunch Muslim who wishes to ally democracy with religion.
Capturing each woman’s attempts to balance marriage, motherhood, and politics, Deeter probes at the cultural fabric behind the country’s constitution—one that the government believes will be a model for Arab nations. Newsreels, archive footage, and interviews weave together in an inspiring and insightful take on revolution, showing how the hardest part of rebellion is not overthrowing a dictator but managing political and personal relationships in the aftermath.
Vancity Theatre, March 11 (12 p.m.)
> Kate Wilson
Despite its shaky camerawork, candid one-on-ones, and general vloglike vibe, Lutine—its name a French synonym for polyamory—is not a documentary. Rather, a cut-and-splice amalgam of Q & As with Paris’s polyamorous community, tête-à-têtes between director Isabelle Broué and her fictional beau, Gaël (Mathieu Bisson), and reenactments of said chats by Broué and actor Philippe Rebbot forms a sort of docu-comedy that expertly blurs fantasy and reality. (It is, as Broué describes, a UMO: an “unidentified movie object”.)
Things get sticky when life begins to imitate art—or, perhaps more accurately, art begins to imitate art—but there’s a cheeky sense of self-awareness when, in a scene as baffling for viewers as it is for the actors playing actors, Broué quips: “If we think about it, we’re lost.” Though the filmmaker’s antics are amusing, fleeting commentary by figures such as Françoise Simpère, the so-called high priestess of polyamory, leaves us with an appetite for more—especially given the topic’s taboo nature in mainstream culture.
Vancity Theatre, March 11 (9 p.m.)
> Lucy Lau
Unveiled: The Kohistan Video Scandal
A “scandalous” mobile video recording of four young girls and two boys singing and clapping together in a village in Pakistan serves as the catalyst for this compelling doc by B.C. filmmaker Brishkay Ahmed.
The grainy footage is exhibited repeatedly—its female subjects now seemingly missing and at the centre of a controversial honour-killing case—as we follow Pakistani journalist Haseeb Khawaja and his efforts in bringing to light an amoral system and the cultural customs that, today, continue to claim the lives of hundreds.
The boys’ and girls’ jovial chants echo between interviews with women’s-rights activists and representatives of the local jirga—a quasi-legal council that allegedly ordered the death of the adolescent and preteen girls—becoming a haunting soundtrack to a blistering fight for justice.
Vancity Theatre, March 8 (12 p.m.)
> Lucy Lau