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The Feminine Eye: European Women Directors at Miami Film Fest

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Women directors have long since moved beyond the genres that were considered traditionally their métier…..romantic dramas, light comedies or relationship films. Female helmers nowadays can be found on the sets of action films, special-effects fantasies and knockabout comedies. The rise of women directors is indeed a worldwide phenomenon and is strongly represented at this year’s Miami International Film Festival.

Films from European film directors are included in all sections of the Festival. In the Gusman Galas section, which are screened in the beautiful art deco Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the list includes Spanish director Iciar Bollain’s Mataharis, which showcases a trio of Spain’s most talented actresses. The film, which premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival, was nominated for 5 Goya Awards and won a Best Screenplay prize with the Spanish Cinema Writers Circle.

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The World Cinema Competition also boasts a strong female contingent, including Dutch director Tamar van den Dop with her modern day fable Blind [+see also:
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; and UK director Joanna Hogg’s heartfelt feminist-awakening drama Unrelated [+see also:
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, which won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the London Film Festival.

The documentary world opened up to female talents much earlier than did the feature film industry, giving women directors a longer history of accomplishment in that genre. This year’s Documentary Features Competition adds a new roster of female talents to a distinguished list. In Divorce Albanian Style, Bulgarian director Adela Peeva explores the brutal effect of communism in neighboring Albania, through the words and stories of its survivors.

Other prominent films in the Festival that reflect the feminine eye include: Exodus, a provocative retelling of the Biblical story of Exodus, by UK director Penny Woolcock; The Tree Of Ghibet, the docudrama of child prostitutes living on the harsh streets of Douala, Cameroon, by Italian co-director Nevina Satta; and Miguel & William, a fanciful what-if drama about the fictional meeting of Cervantes and Shakespeare by Spanish director Ines Paris.

The above is, by any standards, an impressive list of film talents. In our politically correct era, it is fashionable to assume that there are no differences between men and women. So exactly how these films are shaped by the female perspective remains a concept open to inspection and debate. Yet it remains a compelling subject of discussions for those interested in the future of filmmaking as a whole.

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

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