PM Sydney 2024

visionary european women filmmakers delve into the intricacies of human experience

The line-up for this year's edition of EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM at Sydney Film Festival (SFF, 5 - 16 June) has now been confirmed. The 9th edition of the long-standing collaboration between European Film Promotion (EFP) and the SFF presents films by outstanding European women filmmakers to the Australian audiences, film industry and press.

This year's selection made by SFF festival director Nashen Moodley consists of two documentaries and four feature films, including two feature debuts. These six films are united in their artistic intention of lending a voice to a younger generation and allowing older people to be heard: Afterwar by Birgitte Stærmose (Denmark, Kosovo*, Sweden, Finland), Excursion by Una Gunjak (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, France, Norway, Qatar), Immortals by Maja Tschumi (Switzerland, Iraq), Je’vida by Katja Gauriloff (Finland), The Lost Children by Michèle Jacob (Belgium) and A Postcard from Rome by Elza Gauja (Latvia).

“The selection of films impresses through the differences in their protagonists’ identities, stories, perspectives, and ambitions across an extensive spectrum of cinematographic approaches. The filmmakers explore topics such as cultural heritage and the struggle for gender equality. Our thanks go to the Sydney Film Festival for sharing this platform for these six films by the most promising of European women filmmakers,“ said EFP's Managing Director Sonja Heinen.

“The EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM programme's 2024 instalment continues our dedication to showcasing the incredible talents of women filmmakers across Europe,” said Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “From a moving Latvian comedy to a surreal Belgian horror and ground-breaking Skolt Sámi storytelling, this year's program exemplifies the diverse and powerful narratives brought to life by female directors. With films exploring themes of resilience and identity, this programme serves as a vital platform for amplifying the voices of women in the film industry.”

Afterwar by Danish filmmaker Birgitte Stærmose is a feature-length film sequel and follow-up project to her award-winning 2009 short documentary Out of Love about children who sold cigarettes and peanuts on the streets of Pristina after the end of the Kosovo war. Birgitte kept in touch with these children for several years and followed them on social media. In a mixture of documentary and staged sequences, and in close collaboration with the now adult protagonists, the film asks in three chapters what it means to be children in a war-torn Kosovo.

Excursion is the feature film debut by Una Gunjak, who grew up in Sarajevo. The film follows young Iman as she searches for herself. Iman has platonic feelings for an older boy and pretends to have slept with him and even become pregnant. Her lies have fatal consequences. She is confronted in a harsh way by the expectations placed on women in the conservative society of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Inspired by the contradictions in her own country, Una Gunjak asks what would happen if one did not bend to the binary gender stereotypes in a hyper-patriarchal society.

Swiss director Maja Tschumi has also chosen a formal three-part structure for her documentary Immortals about young people in Iraq. She follows the strong-willed feminist Milo and the ambitious filmmaker Khalili, who represent the eyes and voices of the younger generation who have known nothing but war since the US-led invasion and are fighting for a better future.

Katja Gauriloff has made film history with her film Je'vida. It is the first feature film in Skolt Sámi, a marginalised minority language in Finland, Norway, and Russia, as well as being an intimate, emotional study about the devastating effects of the loss of culture and identity. The black-and-white film tells the story of a woman, Je'vida, who was born into a Skolt Sámi family and who, after decades of repression, confronts the past and her culture.

In Michèle Jacob's feature film debut The Lost Children, four siblings are left to fend for themselves in an abandoned house. When they realise that their father is not coming back, they not only face the new challenges and demands of caring for themselves, but are also confronted with their darkest fears. An intense film about adults-in-the-making, with the director's own daughters in front of the camera.

In her award-winning film A Postcard from Rome, Latvian director Elza Gauja tells the story of an elderly couple - Alvine and Ernest - who both work in a post office and use a fraud scheme to win their long-awaited trip to Rome. Their joy is overshadowed by Alvine's progressing Alzheimer's disease.

EFP‘s EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM programme includes a preliminary webinar with the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA) on 28th May as well as networking events on site during Sydney Film Festival for the filmmakers who are travelling to Sydney: For EFP Maja Tschumi will be there in person to present her film to the festival audiences in June and represent the European delegation, while her fellow women directors not travelling to Sydney will introduce their films in short introductory video clips shown before the screenings.

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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 and the participating national film promotion institutes (EFP’s member organisations): Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Danish Film Institute, Finnish Film Foundation, National Film Centre of Latvia, SWISS FILMS and Wallonie Bruxelles Images. EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM will continue its successful cooperation with the European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA). The media partner is Cineuropa.

“This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.”

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