Europe Voices of Women in Film 22

array of storytelling by ten european women filmmakers at sydney film festival

European Film Promotion's (EFP) flourishing collaboration with Sydney Film Festival (June 8 – 19, 2022) will now be presenting EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM in its seventh edition. The programme will cast a spotlight on ten selected films by outstanding European women filmmakers for the Australian audience, film industry and press.

Apart from Alli Haapasalo‘s third feature Girl Picture (Finland) and documentaries by Eva Vitija (Loving Highsmith, Switzerland, Germany) and debutant Bianca Stigter (Three Minutes - A Lengthening), the festival’s selection for 2022 includes another seven debut features: As In Heaven by Tea Lindeburg (Denmark), Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman by Tijana Zinajić (Slovenia), Blue Moon by Alina Grigore (Romania), It Is In Us All by Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Ireland), Maya Nilo (Laura) by Lovisa Sirén (Sweden, Finland, Belgium), Small Body by Laura Samani (Italy, France, Slovenia), and Talking About the Weather by Annika Pinske (Germany).

EFP has put together a hybrid programme including a virtual EWA Talk with the European Women's Audiovisual Network as well as networking events and panel discussions on site for the four filmmakers travelling to Sydney. Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Alina Grigore, Tea Lindeburg and Eva Vitija 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 clips shown before the screenings.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating this year's festival edition with our initiative on the traditional dates in Sydney’s cinemas and look forward to offering an online/on-site programme that brings European women filmmakers together with their audiences and Australian film professionals beyond digital reality”, says EFP’S Managing Director Sonja Heinen. “The selection of films impresses by the differences in their protagonists’ identities, stories, perspectives and ambitions across an extensive spectrum of cinematographic approaches. Our thanks go to the Sydney Film Festival for sharing this platform for ten films by the most promising of European women filmmakers.“

“Audiences can anticipate 10 marvellous films from talented directors as part of the Europe! Voices of Women in Film program. From the top prize winner at the San Sebastián Film Festival, Blue Moon, to the story of renowned author Patricia Highsmith and her daring ideas about sexuality in Loving Highsmith, these films will be sure to captivate and inspire filmgoers. And we so look forward to welcoming filmmakers back to the Festival to interact with the audience and the Australian film industry“, says Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley.

Based on the Danish literary classic „En Dødsnat“ by Marie Bregendahl, Tea Lindeburg’s award-winning feature film As In Heaven takes us to the Danish island of Funen during the 19th century. A complicated and fateful birth for her mother changes the life of the eldest daughter, 14-year-old Lise, shattering the young woman's dreams of a different future. Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman is the film debut by the well-known Slovenian theatre director and actress Tijana Zinajić: 27-year-old painter Eva reflects on the life she has or has not achieved. Using Slovenian street language, the subversive comedy focuses on a generation of young people who have to recognise and fight for their place and voice in a time of countless opportunities. Blue Moon is the first feature film by the actress Alina Grigore as a director. She creates a storyline of explosive emotions with two young women at the centre who try to escape from family traditions and sexual repression. The Finnish director and writer Alli Haapasalo returns to Sydney with her passion for telling encouraging stories with the focus on women. Her third feature film, Girl Picture, shows three friends on the brink of adulthood, shifting between love and desire, and had its world premiere at Sundance before heading to the Generation 14plus section at Berlin in February. It Is In Us All by the former Irish European Shooting Star Antonia Campbell-Hughes impresses with an atmospheric drama where two men of different ages collide in a car accident and develop an ambivalent relationship testing their inner vitalities. Based on Patricia Highsmith's unpublished diaries and notes as well as testimonies from friends, lovers and relatives, Eva Vitija's Loving Highsmith shows the lifelong search for (sexual) identity by one of the most prolific authors of all times beyond entrenched binary gender conceptions. In Maya Nilo (Laura), the Swedish scriptwriter, editor and director Lovisa Sirén deconstructs and reassembles family constellations and shows how difficult it is to break common stereotypes. A road trip from Stockholm to Portugal becomes a liberating adventure for two estranged sisters and a teenage daughter. Small Body by the Italian director Laura Samani takes us on a magical journey to a woman’s self-determination: set in the archaic Christian world of Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region in 1900, a young mother ventures out to free her stillborn baby’s soul. Talking About the Weather, the graduation film by the German filmmaker Annika Pinske, is a quiet drama about the relationship between mothers and daughters, reflecting urban-rural alienation, East-West origins and the risk a woman with professional ambitions and alternative life plans is willing to take. Bianca Stigter's Three Minutes - A Lengthening transforms rare colour home-movie footage shot in 1938 Poland into a remarkable testament to victims of the Holocaust. Produced by Steve McQueen and narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, her detective work uses the only visual record remaining of members of the Jewish community in Nasielsk to recover their stories.

***click here for more information on EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM***

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, Finnish Film Foundation, German Films, Romanian Film Development, SEE NL (The Netherlands), Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, Slovenian Film Centre, Swedish Film Institute, 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.

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Film Selection 2022

A fatal car crash on the misty highways of Donegal brings together two survivors - slick London businessman Hamish and teenager Evan, who initiates an uncanny friendship with the older man. Hamish, who has inherited the home of his late aunt, had planned to visit Ireland only briefly. But his stay is prolonged by this tense entanglement with Evan and an unspeakable attachment to the land where his mother was raised. Antonia Campbell-Hughes' directorial debut is a moody capsule of hyper-masculinity, grounded by the palpable, bottled-up agony of lead actor Cosmo Jarvis (Lady Macbeth).

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It Is In Us All
Antonia Campbell-Hughes

It's only a few hours' drive to Bucharest but it seems like a world away to Irina. An intelligent 22-year-old, Irina wants to study in the capital but feels coerced into working at the country hotel run by the violent and abusive men in her extended family. This toxic atmosphere of in-fighting, mind games and simmering resentment has also deeply affected Irina's volatile sister, Vicki. Things begin to change when Irina makes an unexpected and unorthodox connection with Tudor, a married actor. Grigore's fearless and confronting screenplay is matched by Ioana Chitu's outstanding performance as the vulnerable yet coolly determined young woman who wants to finally start living her own life.

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Blue Moon
Alina Grigore

Told over three Fridays, GIRL PICTURE follows whip-smart best friends Mimmi and Rönkkö - two teens mystified by the pitfalls of love and desire. Sparks fly when hot-headed Mimmi meets Emma, an elite figure skater determined to reach the European championships. Meanwhile, Rönkkö embarks on a bold quest to orgasm for the first time. Leaning into joy and discomfort, filmmaker Alli Haapasalo paints a tender portrait of young women on the watershed between adolescence and adulthood. Terrific performances and banter cement GIRL PICTURE as a remarkably authentic ode to female friendship and first love.

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Girl Picture
Alli Haapasalo

In this dark feminist fable, a life is suspended between the present and the future. Eldest daughter Lise spends an idyllic summer frolicking barefoot on her family's farm. She's about to attend boarding school, the dream of an independent future in reach. But when her mother experiences a life-threatening childbirth, Lise is forced to confront the claustrophobia of 19th century gender roles. With elemental cinematography and a breakout performance from newcomer Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl, AS IN HEAVEN pays tribute to the labour and resilience of women.

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As In Heaven
Tea Lindeburg

Clara, a PhD candidate in her late 30s, is determined to live a self-possessed life in Berlin. She teaches philosophy, has a troubled affair with a student and attends upper-class dinner parties with cutthroat intellectuals. A deep thrum of unease runs through this razor-sharp script, as Clara witnesses the ennui, jealousies and class anxiety of the bourgeoise. That unease deepens further when Clara returns to her rural hometown in what used to be the GDR and suddenly realises she can no longer relate to anyone there. Annika Pinske's absorbing drama wonderfully unpacks the neurosis of a complicated woman caught between milieus.

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Talking About the Weather
Annika Pinske

After birthing a stillborn child, the grieving Agata is tortured by her Catholic faith - specifically the belief that her baby's soul lies in eternal Limbo. Hope comes in the form of a mystical sanctuary in the middle of the mountains which can allow her baby to live for just one breath - just long enough to be blessed. Against the wishes of her husband and community, Agata embarks on an Orphean journey across north-east Italy, along rivers and into forests brimming with ancient power. Echoing the folkloric aura of Alice Rohrwacher's HAPPY AS LAZZARO, Samani's odyssey is stunning and strange in equal measure.

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Small Body
Laura Samani
Italy, France, Slovenia

Feminist writer Nilo's calm life is disrupted by the arrival of her wayward sister Maya - who then runs off with Nilo's Volvo and 13-year-old daughter. Nilo reluctantly tags along on this impromptu road trip, which takes them from the orderly streets of Stockholm to the misty hills of Portugal. As the two sisters contend with zany mishaps, their emotional baggage and the rebellious whims of teenaged Laura, the film revels in the delight and messiness of their three-way bond. Shot in luminous 35mm with a dreamy synth score, Swedish director Lovisa Sirén establishes herself as a bold new voice.

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Maya Nilo (Laura)
Lovisa Sirén
Sweden, Finland, Belgium

The small Polish town of Nasielsk was once home to around 3000 Jewish people. Fewer than 100 of them survived the Holocaust. A year prior to their fateful deportation, Jewish-American David Kurtz visited his childhood town, shooting three minutes of amateur holiday footage during his stay. Decades later, Dutch director Bianca Stigter - with the help of narrator Helena Bonham Carter - dives deep into this precious fragment. Through inventive assemblage and intimate reflections, the footage unfurls into a haunting tapestry of mystery and loss demonstrating how the film medium can bear witness. Co-produced by Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE).

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Three Minutes - A Lengthening
Bianca Stigter
The Netherlands, United Kingdom

Texan novelist Patricia Highsmith has long been acclaimed for her strange, cinematic stories of suspense, which captured the imaginations of directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Todd Haynes, and Anthony Minghella. Best known for penning 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' and sequels, Highsmith also wrote 'Carol' (aka 'The Price of Salt'), her only novel to feature an unequivocal lesbian relationship. In this intimate documentary, Highsmith's unpublished diaries lyrically intermingle with the personal accounts of people who knew and loved her. The heart-rending character study depicts a visionary female writer, forced to repress her innate desires by a heteronormative society.

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Loving Highsmith
Eva Vitija
Switzerland, Germany

Colourful flat-mates, indie rock, and druggy adventures abound in Tijana Zinajić's vibrant debut. Sardonic millennial Eva is stuck in life. Hopelessly in love with her stoner roommate, she's also conducting an ill-advised affair with a married painter. But worst of all, she's lost her creative spark. Then, just as Eva and her friends face certain eviction, she discovers her period is late. Bolstered by a charming ensemble cast, Bitch brims with caustic humour and moments of scorching truth about young people caught in the throes of late-stage capitalism.

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Bitch - a Derogatory Term for a Woman
Tijana Zinajić