Female Eye Film Festival

Preview of the 2011 Female Eye Film Festival

I joined the millions of people who watched the Oscars last month and, as usual, there was a lot of tedious banter mixed in with some great clips and big winners. The 9th Annual Female Eye Film Festival, which runs from March 16-20th, will also have some great clips and big winners, but it has something the 2010 Oscars did not: female directors. Since many of the films are short, I've been able to watch quite a few of them over the past week. What I've noticed is that this year's selections cover everything.

The films are divided into a variety of categories--Experimental, Canadian Aboriginal, Suspense and Thriller, and so on--but even within these categories, the films range from intense to absurd and everything in between. Abandon Me (March 18) is an uncomfortable, yet tasteful look at the after-effects of abuse, while The Valley of Dawn (March 20) documents a fascinating group of people in Brazil who believe they originate from the Planet Capela, and Gaykeith (March 17) is a hilarious gay comedy about a washed-up Canadian actor. These are just a few of the dozens of films that will be screening.

In addition to short films, this year's selections also include a number of feature length films, two of which will open and close the Festival. Amazon Falls, a drama about a fading B actress still trying to kick-start her career, will headline the opening gala on March 17, and Black Ocean, a drama about 3 young men working on a French naval vessel in 1972, will close the Festival on March 20. Both films are good selections, but they were both also part of TIFF's 2010 lineup. It was a bit of a cop out to choose films that have already been screened in Toronto but it gives Toronto a second chance to see them on the big screen. Still, it would have been nice to see something new in the spotlight.

The great thing about this year's line-up is that, although the Festival is open to women from all over the world, over a dozen films in the festival were produced right here in Toronto. One of particular note is Two Cities (March 18). This drama was produced as a student-thesis by a group of film students during their academic career at Sheridan College. Two Cities tells the story of a Canadian foreign-aid worker who gets kidnapped while working in Darfur. The film examines an often overlooked issue and definitely does not come across as a student work.

By the way, the Female Eye Film festival isn't just about film screenings. It kicks off on March 16 with high tea (yes, I said high tea) and a Toronto film tour. Throughout the festival there will be panel discussions, tributes, and script readings, and many of the screenings will be followed by a Q and A session with the directors. There's also going to be a special honourary director brunch and tribute with Mary Harron--director of I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, and The Notorious Bettie Page. As for nightlife,I get the sense there will be some pretty awesome after-parties, starting with the reception after the opening gala on March 17.

The Female Eye Film Festival will run from March 16 to 20, 2011. Tickets are $8 in advance (1.866.9.43.8849) or $10 at the door. Screenings will take place at Rainbow Cinemas Market Square, 80 Front St East. Details about other events are posted on the website.

Writing by Casandra Campbell

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