A Feminist Survival Guide to Seattle
SIFF is upon us again, so we picked through the movie list and singled out films that focus on women and/or related social justice struggles. Most of the films on the list were directed by women. Here are the movies we’d like to see:
40 Days of Silence
Uzbekistan | 2014 | 88 minutes | Saodat Ismailova
In an isolated Uzbek village, young Bibicha takes a traditional vow of silence and moves into her grandmother’s old house, along with three other women, to be part of a chilla, or spiritual “quarantine.”
Abuse of Weakness
France | 2013 | 104 minutes | Catherine Breillat
Based on actual events that befell filmmaker Catherine Breillat (the provocateur behind Romance and Fat Girl), Isabelle Huppert stars as a director, partially paralyzed from a serious stroke, who falls for an arrogant, conniving, money-hungry con man.
B for Boy
Nigeria | 2013 | 118 minutes | Chika Anadu
In Chika Anadu’s award-winning debut film, Amaka, a 40-year-old Nigerian woman, is expected to produce a male heir. But when the baby dies in utero, she desperately searches for a solution that would keep her husband from taking a second wife.
Venezuela | 2013 | 93 minutes | Mariana Rondón
In this finely acted, deceptively small-scaled film, nine-year-old Junior and his frustrated single mother clash over Junior’s desire to straighten his kinky hair. The tower blocks of Caracas, Venezuela are the backdrop for a subtly powerful domestic drama.
The Bit Player
Philippines | 2013 | 111 minutes | Jeffrey Jeturian
Loida is an aging actress whose specialty is playing bit parts in Filipino soap operas. We follow a day in her life, and are shown the questionable, exploitative, and uncomfortably hilarious ways of the soap opera production.
Bound: Africans versus African Americans
USA | 2014 | 90 minutes | Peres Owino
Controversial and illuminating, this documentary from Kenyan-born Peres Owino uses testimonials to expose the seldom-discussed ways that Africans and African Americans view each other, and looks at the cultures’ shared history to foster mutual understanding.
A Brony Tale
USA | 2014 | 75 minutes | Brent Hodge
Ashleigh Ball is a voice actor best known for her characters Applejack and Rainbow Dash on the hit children’s series, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” A kid favorite, it has another, more unexpected following: men ages 13-30, a.k.a. Bronies. Follow Ball as she heads to their biggest gathering, BronyCon.
Czech Republic | 2013 | 230 minutes | Agnieszka Holland
An epic drama examining the emotional, political, and societal fallout from Prague student Jan Palach’s 1969 self-immolation protesting the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. The action centers on charismatic attorney Dagmar Buresova, who becomes part of Jan’s legacy by acting for his family in the legal case against the communist government, a regime that tried to dishonor Palach’s sacrifice. A riveting thriller plot with complex characters and sumptuously re-created period detail.
Israel | 2013 | 122 minutes | Ari Folman
Ari Folman follows up the Oscar®-nominated Waltz With Bashir with a surreal, vivacious, live action-animation hybrid about an aging actress (Robin Wright playing a version of herself) who sells her image to a movie studio-turned-cinematic dream world.
Dear White People
USA | 2014 | 108 minutes | Justin Simien
A witty and whip-smart satire about being a black face in a (mostly) white place, Dear White People centers on biracial campus DJ and resident advisor Samantha and her fellow African-American students at the prestigious Winchester University.
Ethiopia | 2014 | 99 minutes | Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
After being beaten, assaulted, and kidnapped, 14-year-old Aberash shoots and kills her attacker in an act of self-defense, pitting herself and her tenacious lawyer against Ethiopia’s long-standing tradition of marriage by abduction. Based on an extraordinary true story.
The Foxy Merkins
USA | 2013 | 81 minutes | Madeleine Olnek
Jo is straight but picks up women with more efficiency than schlubby, antisocial lesbian hustler Margaret in this low-budget buddy comedy where Talbots stands in for the street corner.
It’s Only Make Believe
Norway | 2013 | 91 minutes | Arild Østin Ommundsen
Confronted in a life-threatening robbery, pregnant Jenny successfully defends herself—but loses her fiancé. When she’s freed from prison 10 years later, her journey toward a stable life and custody of her daughter is fraught with emotion.
Lady Be Good; Instrumental Women In Jazz
USA | 2014 | 80 minutes | Kay D. Ray
“How does it feel to be a woman in a man’s world?” Through archival footage and interviews old (Artie Shaw) and new (Quincy Jones), musician-composer Patrice Rushen narrates the oft-untold history of American women jazz instrumentalists.
Me, Myself and Mum
Belgium | 2013 | 95 minutes | Guillaume Gallienne
Writer-director-star Guillaume Gallienne recalls his upper-class youth and his ambiguous affinity with his mother (also played by Gallienne), who raised him as more of a daughter than a son. Winner of five César Awards, including Best Picture.
USA | 2014 | 83 minutes | Gillian Robespierre
27-year-old Brooklynite Donna is dumped, fired, and impregnated in quick succession. Truth-telling works in her comedy, but can she do the same in her personal life? Hilarious turns from an ensemble cast meet Slate’s own in a swirl of biting wit, raw honesty, and sweet romance.
Regarding Susan Sontag
USA | 2014 | 100 minutes | Nancy Kates
Meticulously constructed from a plethora of interviews and archival footage and accompanied by Patricia Clarkson’s terrific voiceover, this engrossing documentary about one of the most prominent and fascinating voices and figures of the 20th century raises the question, “Who was Susan Sontag, and why is she important now?”
USA | 2014 | 97 minutes | Jeffrey Brown
13-year-old Nepali, Lakshmi, is sent by her family to India to work, only to be forced into prostitution in this compassionate, unforgettable tale of human trafficking adapted from Patricia McCormick’s award-winning international bestseller.
Standing Aside, Watching
Greece | 2013 | 90 minutes | Yorgos Servetas
Antigone returns from Athens to her troubled hometown determined to keep a low profile. But run-ins with the town’s brutish men set a startling series of events in motion.
Two Raging Grannies
Norway | 2014 | 78 minutes | Håvard Bustnes
Seattleites Shirley and Hinda are elderly best friends who are extremely concerned with the possibility of perpetual economic growth for the USA. Follow them on their mobility scooters from Seattle to Wall Street, as they demand answers and attention.
We Are the Best!
Sweden | 2013 | 102 minutes | Lukas Moodysson
In 1982 Stockholm, three 13-year-old misfits deal with their suffocating surroundings, as well as the onslaught of adolescence, by forming a riotous, all-girl punk trio. Based on the graphic novel “Never Goodnight” by Coco Moodysson.
Germany | 2013 | 109 minutes | David F. Wnendt
Unapologetically vulgar and played out with sparkling energy, Wetlands follows fearless teenager Helen’s coming of age escapades. Based on Charlotte Roche’s worldwide bestseller, styled as a Ya “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Witching and Bitching
Spain | 2013 | 110 minutes | Álex de la Iglesia
Divorced dad Jose and his pals are on the run after a botched burglary, carrying 25,000 cursed golden rings into Basque country, where a coven of bloodthirsty witches exact revenge on behalf of all women.