News & Reports

‘Between Women Filmmakers’: International Event Reaches Out to Arabs

Connecting female filmmakers with the public is the focus of the Between Women Filmmakers Caravan, founded by the Egyptian filmmaker Amal Ramsis.

This year’s festival, which ran from November 4 to 13, presented an international lineup of films by women on topics as varied as human migration, attachment to one’s roots, motherhood and friendship.

“There were no specific film themes in this year’s edition,” Ramsis told Al-Fanar Media. “The selection of films was more about presenting something different and new at the level of cinematic scenes and content.”

More than 350 films were submitted to the festival, she added, but only 15 were selected: ten feature films and five short documentaries. Directors from Algeria, Egypt and Lebanon, as well as Europe and Latin America, participated.

The film screenings and parallel activities all took place online, a format the festival first tried last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There were no specific film themes in this year’s edition. The selection of films was more about presenting something different and new at the level of cinematic scenes and content.”

Amal Ramsis
An Egyptian filmmaker and the festival’s founder

“This year, we preferred to continue holding it virtually,” Ramsis said. “That way we managed to achieve greater communication with the audience and filmmakers from different countries.”

The virtual format also allowed the festival to bypass logistical hurdles like getting cinema permits and meeting other conditions for organising events. “We hope that these restrictions will ease in the future so the public can watch film festivals in cinemas,” Ramsis said.

Reaching Out to Arab Women

While the Between Women Filmmakers Caravan is international in scope, it makes a point of reaching out to Arab women filmmakers. From 2008 to 2018, it presented a Cairo edition known as the Cairo International Women’s Film Festival, which described itself as the first annual women’s film festival in the Arab world.

The Caravan also offers training activities in the craft of filmmaking. These include a “Rough Cut Workshop” that targets women and men from across the Arab world, and an eight-month-long Creative Documentary Workshop for women filmmakers in Egypt.

‘Between Women Filmmakers’: Films and Conversations

The documentary project provides women with technical training in directing, editing, photography and production in workshops run by professional female documentary filmmakers from Egypt, other Arab countries, and Europe.

Women Directors’ Worlds

The feature films presented this year included a number of narratives inspired by the women directors’ own worlds and families.

Among them were the French director Pauline Horovitz’s “Dad’s Leaving”, in which Jacques, the 70-year-old father of the filmmaker, proves that dreams can come true at any age.

In her film “The Warden”, the Dutch director Threes Anna presents the true story of the warden of a bird sanctuary on an isolated island who is told that his job is over. Having spent almost half a century alone, he refuses to leave and starts fighting back in his own way.

The short films, in a series titled “Mothers in Focus,” were made by five Egyptian female filmmakers who told personal stories about motherhood.

Ramsis said the motherhood stories resulted from the 2019 Creative Documentary Workshop, which focuses on a different theme each year.

Cinematic Education

The festival’s parallel activities included question-and-answer sessions with individual filmmakers and a roundtable discussion on “The Role of Women in Alternative Cinematic Education in the Arab World.” The participants discussed projects like Algeria’s “Cinema and Memory”, Tunisia’s “Steps,” and the Creative Documentary Workshop.

Since the festival started in 2008, the organisers’ priority has been to discuss films with their filmmakers. It was not always possible to invite all of them to attend in person, however, given the high cost of travel. The 2021 festival’s virtual format removed that barrier.

[Enjoying this article? Subscribe to our free newsletter.]

“This year, we had the opportunity to discuss the films with them remotely, besides holding workshops that connected female filmmakers to the public,” Ramsis said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button