Women have been involved in filmmaking since the late 19th century, when Alice Guy-Blaché released the silent film La Fée aux Choux. The subjects women have depicted on film are as diverse as those chosen by their male counterparts. It wasn't until 2010 that an Oscar for best director was given to a woman, when Kathryn Bigelow got her gold statue for The Hurt Locker, a serious film about a bomb-disposal unit in Iraq.
In spite of that feat, the achievements of women behind the camera are still infrequently celebrated. One new film festival taking place at the Texas Theatre from August 19-21 is working to help change that. The Women Texas Film Festival is the first in Texas to narrow its focus to work by women.
This week the festival announced its lineup, which will be led by a comedy from Australian director Rosemary Myers. Girl Asleep won the Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle Film Festival for its story of a 15-year-old introvert whose parents throw her a rager for her birthday. It will be joined at the Texas Theatre — home to Dallas' other great film festival, The Oak Cliff Film Festival — by 5 feature-length films and 31 shorts.
The shorts program is divided into the categories Youth, Video Mix Tape, Dark Minds and Dark Worlds. As with the feature films, the lineup was curated to highlight the skill of the filmmakers but also the breadth of subjects they cover.
There will be panels, too, with topics including “Gaming and VR, The New Frontier Demonstrated,” “I Made That – Female Producers Tell the What, Why, and How of Producing,” “Discussing Beware the Slenderman with Psychiatrists and Pediatric Counselors” and “A Director, a Writer, a DP, and an Editor Walk into a Bar."
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“We are thrilled to bring this celebration of female filmmaking to Dallas, which is home to some of the most enthusiastic and discerning film audiences in the entire country," says the festival's founder and artistic director Justina Walford in the press release announcing the lineup. "[We have] a lineup of films that amuse, surprise, provoke and frighten, and film goers will get a taste of the skill and imagination of some very talented women pulling the strings and at the helm of visual storytelling."
See the full lineup of feature films below:
OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
Director: Rosemary Myers
Country: Australia, Running Time: 77min
In this vibrant portrayal of Australian adolescence, Greta Driscoll's bubble of obscure loserdom is burst when her parents throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and invite the whole school! Perfectly content being a wallflower, suddenly Greta's flung far from her comfort zone into a distant, parallel place — a strange world that’s a little frightening and a lot weird, but only there can she find herself. Equal measures Wes Anderson and Lewis Carroll, GIRL ASLEEP is an enchanting journey into the absurd — and sometimes scary — depths of the teenage mind.
BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN
Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky
Country: Running Time: 114min
BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN tells the story of the internet’s elusive Boogeyman and two 12-year-old girls who would kill for him. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier lured their best friend into the woods, stabbed her 19 times, then set out on an odyssey to meet the tall and faceless man known online as Slenderman. Shot over 18 months with heartbreaking access to the families of the would-be murderers, the film plunges deep down the rabbit hole of their crime, a Boogeyman and our society’s most impressionable consumers of media. The entrance to the internet can quickly lead us to its dark basement, within just a matter of clicks. How much do we hold children responsible for what they find there?
42 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS
Director: Christina Kallas
Country: USA, Running Time: 95min
A circle of thirty-something friends reunite for a weekend away to celebrate the same sex wedding of a member of their group. Yet, despite their best efforts to behave themselves, a series of surprise plans, unexpected arrivals and exposed secrets lead to an explosion of drama that, coupled with the flammable combination of hurt feelings, unresolved tensions, and lots of wine cannot be contained.
Director: Celia Rowlson-Hall
Country: USA, Running Time: 80min
MA is a striking modern-day vision of Mother Mary's pilgrimage through the eyes of Ma (played by Celia Rowlson-Hall), a woman who must venture across the scorched landscape of the American Southwest to fulfill her destiny.
MIZ MARKLEY & ME
Director: Sharie Vance
Country: USA, Running Time: 44min
Inspirational for subjects and audience alike, this funny, poignant, and musical film is the story of two late-bloomers, with all the doubt and angst you might imagine, finding encouragement and validation from each other's journey.
ON THE FARM
Director: Rachel Talalay
Country: Canada, Running Time: 88min
Based on a true story, a powerful study of the dysfunction and disorder in the police and criminal justice systems that allowed a wily psychopath to murder nearly 50 marginalized women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The Women Texas Film Festival takes place at Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd., from August 19-21. Tickets to individual films are $11. A VIP festival pass is $95 if purchased by August 1,; $150 after. The shorts package is $25. To purchase and find more info, visit womentxff.org.