In its eighth year of collaboration with Sydney Film Festival (SFF) (June 7 – 18, 2023), European Film Promotion’s (EFP) dedicated programme, EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM will be highlighting 10 selected films by outstanding European women filmmakers for the Australian audience, film industry and press.
Supported by Creative Europe - the Media Programme of the European Union - and the participating European national film promotion institutes (EFP’s member organisations) and with the final selection made by SFF festival director Nashen Moodley, this year's line-up mainly comprises feature-length debuts and two documentaries that had already celebrated their world premieres at international film festivals in Rome, London, Toronto, Rotterdam, Sundance and Berlin, to name just a few, in 2022 and 2023.
"This year's selection of films of our longstanding common initiative provides an intense and varied glimpse of the diverse realities in Europe. Partly inspired by their own biographies, the women directors show their views of the world and raise their voices to explore themes of migration, belonging, self-empowerment and friendship. We are confident that the selected films will excite and inspire the Australian audience and encourage important cross-border discussions about moving issues of our time. Our thanks go to Sydney Film Festival for sharing this platform for 10 films by the most promising of European women filmmakers", says EFP's Managing Director Sonja Heinen.
“The EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM programmes's eighth edition shines a light on exceptional women filmmakers, amplifying their voices in an industry burdened by gender disparity,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “Featuring films from Italy to Denmark, and Ireland to Estonia, the programme serves as a platform for the diverse experiences and narratives of European women.”
EFP offers a programme including a preliminary webinar with the European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA) on 30th May as well as networking events and a panel discussion on site for the five filmmakers who are travelling to Sydney: Anna Hints, Nafiss Nia, Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir, Asimina Proedrou, and Marta Savina will be there in person to present their films to the festival audiences in June, while those women directors not travelling to Sydney will introduce their films in short introductory video clips shown before the screenings.
The selected films are: Band by Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir (Iceland), Behind the Haystacks by Asimina Proedrou (Greece, Germany, North Macedonia), Elaha by Milena Aboyan (Germany), Family Time by Tia Kouvo (Finland, Sweden), The Girl from Tomorrow by Marta Savina (Italy, France), The Quiet Migration by Malene Choi (Denmark), Smoke Sauna Sisterhood by Anna Hints (Estonia, France, Iceland), Sunlight by Claire Dix (Ireland), That Afternoon by Nafiss Nia (The Netherlands) and Thunder by Carmen Jaquier (Switzerland).
The playwright, stage director and former Icelandic European Shooting Star Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir introduces us in her docu fiction debut Band to an all-female art rock band dealing with motherhood, aging, and a self-imposed deadline to achieve success. An accident on the northern Greek border shatters a three-member fishing family who is bringing migrants across the border’s river out of a need for money.
The Greek director Asimina Proedrou tells her film Behind the Haystacks from the perspective of the father, the mother and the daughter. Each chapter explores personal behaviour in the face of failings.
Elaha is a young Kurdish-German woman torn between the unconditional love for her family and her own aspirations in life. Since she is no longer a virgin, she tries to restore her virginity in order to conform with the rules of her community, while at the same time questioning them. Elaha is the feature debut and graduation film of the Armenian-born filmmaker Milena Aboyan.
In her debut film Family Time, the Finnish director Tia Kouvo questions family structures, ingrained habits, and expectations in a humorous and ironic way. The comedy-drama follows an annual family Christmas get-together that sees tensions rise. Kouvo observes and analyses without judging.
The Italian director Marta Savina brings a true case to the big screen with her debut film The Girl from Tomorrow: Sicily, 1965: Lia and her parents fight against the so-called reparation marriage after a rape. This story eventually led to a change in the Italian law that had upheld this tradition until 1981.
In her film The Quiet Migration, filmmaker Malene Choi, who was born in South Korea and grew up in Denmark, describes a feeling she knows only too well: belonging neither to Denmark nor to South Korea. Just like her protagonist Carl, who, as an adopted child from South Korea, encounters the pull of two worlds. A smoke sauna as a healing place.
In her documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, the Estonian director Anna Hints captures an impressive ritual with her camera. In a lush green forest in southern Estonia, a group of women gather in the safe darkness of a smoke sauna to share deeply intimate testimonies of bodily experiences.
Setting her debut film Sunlight in the city of Dublin, the Irish filmmaker Claire Dix tragicomically describes the complex and fragile friendship between Leon, a former drug addict, and Iver, a mortally ill man who wants to die.
Inspired by her own story, the Iranian-Dutch filmmaker Nafiss Nia explores different emotional states of refugees in That Afternoon. A door that cannot be opened separates Roya, an asylum seeker representing hope, and Nassim, a former refugee embodying our bygone dreams. A film about more than two refugees’ struggle to survive, rather a reflection of the universal desire for a home and the need to come together.
In Carmen Jaquier's historical movie Thunder 17-year-old Elisabeth is forced to leave a convent and return to the family homestead because her eldest sister has suddenly died. The discovery of her sister's diaries frees her inner world from the oppressive concepts of good and evil residing in her strict parental home in 19th century Switzerland and encourages her to pursue her longing for affection.
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EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM, in collaboration with Sydney Film Festival, is made possible thanks to the support of Creative Europe – the MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Eurimages, and the participating national film promotion institutes (EFP’s member organisations): Cinecittà (Italy), Danish Film Institute, Estonian Film Institute, Finnish Film Foundation, German Films, Greek Film Centre, Icelandic Film Centre, SEE NL (The Netherlands), Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, and SWISS FILMS. EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM will continue its successful cooperation with the European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA) and Festival Scope. The main media partner is Screen International, with Fade to Her and Fred Film Radio as additional media partners.
Sydney Film Festival will celebrate its 70th birthday from Wednesday 7 June to Sunday 18 June 2023, offering Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, film guests and more. Sydney Film Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world's longest-running film festivals. The 70th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Screen NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia and the City of Sydney.
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