Band
by Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir
Iceland

Behind the Haystacks
by Asimina Proedrou
Greece

Elaha
by Milena Aboyan
Germany

Family Time
by Tia Kouvo
Finland

The Girl from Tomorrow
by Marta Savina
Italy

The Quiet Migration
by Malene Choi
Denmark

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
by Anna Hints
Estonia

Sunlight
by Claire Dix
Ireland

That Afternoon
by Nafiss Nia
The Netherlands

Thunder
by Carmen Jaquier
Switzerland

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europe! voices of women in film at sydney film festival spotlighting european women directors in australia

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM enables ten European female directors to showcase their latest work in a specially created festival section at the annual Sydney Film Festival. The talents and their films will be promoted with the support of Screen International bringing European women filmmakers to the attention of the Australian audiences and the press. The programme also provides networking opportunities with key Australian film industry players.

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM is a collaboration between EFP and the Sydney Film Festival. It aims to highlight the virtuosity and power of innovative European women filmmakers.

how to participate

EUROPE! VOICES OF WOMEN IN FILM is open to all European women filmmakers whose recent film is

  • feature length (incl. documentary films)
  • produced in the year of the respective festival edition or the year before
  • an Australian premiere

Interested filmmakers who meet the application criteria should contact their national EFP representative by January 2024 for specific information on the application process. Each EFP member country has the right to have up to four films on the shortlist. The artistic team in Sydney will select the final ten films by April. Participants will be notified by EFP.
Travel and accommodation costs for the selected filmmakers will be covered.

2023 selection

The three women of the Post Performance Blues Band (PPBB) have never made it big. Their shows are avant-garde and unclassifiable, playing to dive bars with half-empty crowds. Their lyrics are about everything from waffles and coffee to their mothers. And they’re about to turn 40. Band, directed by PPBB member Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir, thrums with madcap creative passion, as the band gives themselves one last year to make it or break it. Evoking Spinal Tap’s rollicking absurdity, the film borders on mockumentary, grounded by profound reflections on parenthood, failure and dauntless friendship. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Band
Director: Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir
Country: Iceland

Amongst the reeds of Doiran Lake, a group of children make a tragic discovery with wide-reaching consequences. Debt-ridden fisherman Stergios has been using the lake, which divides North Macedonia and Greece, to smuggle refugees for profit – a decision that draws him and his family into an intense moral quagmire. Told through an elliptical, Rashomonesque narrative, director Asimina Proedrou gradually reveals the consequences of self-motivated desires and prejudices. Intense and visually lyrical, Behind the Haystacks is an exploration of religious hypocrisy, xenophobia and constrictive borders. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Behind the Haystacks
Director: Asimina Proedrou
Country: Greece, Germany, Republic of North Macedonia

Elaha (Bayan Layla), a 22-year-old student, is on the cusp of becoming a bride. As her community buzzes with excitement, Elaha struggles with the hidden knowledge that she’s no longer a virgin. Knowing this would cause shame to her family and fiancé, she desperately searches for options to ‘restore’ her virginity. There’s the costly surgery of hymen reconstruction, or blood capsule kits that assist with deception. But will any of it work? Director Milena Aboyan ratchets up the tension, while depicting her young protagonist’s struggle for sexual self-determination with heart-rending grace. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Elaha
Director: Milena Aboyan
Germany

Beneath the sheen of holiday cheer, family gatherings can be stews of private resentments, regret and unspoken histories. Finnish director Tia Kouvo turns her camera’s unsparing gaze on an extended family, who converge at a rustic cottage at the edge of a gorgeous, snow-capped wood for the Christmas season. Droning everyday chatter and mundane family rituals give way to a hothouse of deeper tensions, in this surgical exploration of suffocating private spaces. Sidestepping the usual salacious reveals, Family Time instead mines deadpan comedy and melancholy from things that cannot be easily said. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Family Time
Director: Tia Kouvo
Finland, Sweden

Based on true events in Sicily, 1965. Spirited daydreamer Lia finds her life derailed when her flirtation with a handsome local, Lorenzo, takes a horrific turn. Lia and her family take her case to the courts, battling intimidation from Lorenzo’s powerful family, along with the immense social and legal pressures demanding Lia to marry her assailant. Marta Savina’s assured debut has a contemporary feel as she tackles this revolutionary true story with immense skill and sensitivity. The Girl from Tomorrow is an urgent tale of self-determination and family love. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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The Girl from Tomorrow
Director: Marta Savina
Italy, France

An unspoken yearning for homeland simmers in this lush social drama. Carl, a South Korean adoptee, lives a dutiful existence in the picturesque Danish countryside, tending to the family farm he’ll inherit one day. A quiet wound festers at his centre: Carl lives in a land where nobody looks like him, where family members openly decry migration. Director Malene Choi, also a South Korean adoptee, heightens Carl’s emotional world through surreal flourishes, as he glimpses phantom impressions of his birth mother, and an ominous crack threatens to split the seemingly idyllic farmhouse in two. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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The Quiet Migration
Director: Malene Choi
Denmark

The practice of gathering in woodland smoke saunas is age-old tradition in Southern Estonia. In Anna Hints’s engrossing documentary, the setting takes on a transcendent character, acting as a spiritual refuge for feminine intimacy. Women can comfortably exist in their nakedness, sharing their innermost thoughts on everything from family to self-esteem, traumatic births, and sexual assault. The intensity of their communion is balanced within the restorative atmosphere, where steam hisses over rocks and Edvard Egilsson’s score heightens this choral portrait of contemporary womanhood. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
Director: Anna Hints
Estonia, France, Iceland

How can you part with the person who makes life worth living? Former addict Leon sunnily bounces through life, brushing off the dealers who once had him in their thrall. He owes it all to his best friend, Viking enthusiast Iver. But Leon is destabilised when he discovers Iver has received a terminal diagnosis and is planning to pursue euthanasia. Determined to prolong his mentor’s last days, Leon ropes Iver into one last romp across Dublin. Bolstered by the crackling chemistry between Barry Ward and Liam Carney, Sunlight is a poignant and hilarious ode to the power of friendship and change. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Sunlight
Director: Claire Dix
Ireland

Iranian refugee Roya is at an asylum seekers’ facility, but her status has been rejected and she is to be sent back to Iran. She flees to her last hope – a nearby photographer known for offering a safe haven. But when Roya arrives, all is not so straight forward. She is denied entry by a man claiming to be the photographer’s brother. Separated by a door, the two strike up a conversation, revealing their perspectives on trauma, displacement and the future. Though at first mistrustful of each other, they may be each other’s last hope. Moving and complex, That Afternoon is a tale about boundaries and finding human connection in our darkest hour. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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That Afternoon
Director: Nafiss Nia
The Netherlands

In the summer of 1900, pious 17-year-old Elisabeth learns of the death of her sister, Innocente. Ripped away from the nunnery where she planned to spend her life, she returns home to the Valais valley, where her sister’s name has become taboo. Then, an encounter with three village boys and Innocente’s hidden diary awakens something fresh and wild in the touch-starved Elisabeth. Reminiscent of Jane Campion’s The Piano, Carmen Jaquier’s debut draws on the staggering beauty of the mountains and rivers, in an elemental portrayal of youth caught between restriction and discovery, desire and God. (Sydney Film Festival 2023)

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Thunder
Director: Carmen Jaquier
Switzerland