A Women’s Film Festival, ‘Cinema & Donne’

A scene from Nasrin, about a woman dissident in Iran

Another event brought to at-home screens, the 42nd annual “Cinema e Donne,” the International Women’s Film Festival, will take place online for three days only, from November 25 to 27.  Online from Più Compagnia through MyMovies, the program will feature 23 stories either made by or about women from all around the world, in countries like Hungary, Spain, Iran, Palestine, France, and more.  Fittingly, the inauguration will take place on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.


November 25 – 27:  CINEMA E DONNE, International Women’s Film Festival accessed through Più Compagnia.  “Tickets” cost €9.90 and will give viewers OnDemand access until November 30.  Movies will be shown in their original language with Italian or English subtitles. For the full program and other information, visit the Cinema e Donne website.

Titled “Realiste e Visionarie”—Realist and Visionary—the festival looks to present times for the inspiration. In a year full of setbacks due to the pandemic, women have been brought back to the confines of home, often without an easy way out; lockdowns have witnessed an increase in violence against them. Drawing from the two themes, the films further link history and the future with the premise of pushing boundaries in a time where women are again at an increased risk of marginalization and disparity from their male counterparts.

There still comes a positive from being at home: through streaming, the festival has the capability of further amplifying its message and reaching a much wider audience than ever before. Though the festival ends on the 27th, the films will be available until November 30. Being OnDemand, viewers will have more flexibility in choosing when they would like to watch the films as there is no set time for when they premiere.

Kicking off Cinema e Donne at 10 am on November 25 is the award-winning Corpi by Malgorzata Szumowska, a 90-minute feature that won the 2016 Poland Academy Award for Best Film.  The director examines the relationship between body and soul while portraying the dynamic between a widowed prosecutor, his bulimic daughter, her therapist who believes in Spiritism, in the context of a weighty situation set after the loss of loved ones.

A portuguesa by Rita Azevedo Gomes is also realistic while simultaneously visionary. In a war-torn area of Italy during the 11th century, Lord von Ketten travels to Portugal to take a wife so as to not cause further political rift. His bride is determined to make a home despite difficult conditions: a family abode on a cliff, a husband who is always away with the military, and the loneliness that comes with being a foreigner away from one’s place of origin.  Despite these challenges, she comes across as a woman of peace (Nov. 27).

Closing out the festival on November 27 is Covid 2020, a set of seven mini documentaries created in Palestine, “a place increasingly forgotten by the media” according to festival organizers. Produced by various directors, the series runs for less than 20 minutes but focuses on a variety of Palestinian women, and how their lives have changed with diminishing hopes: a wedding with no foreseeable date, and new fears; wondering if a son will ever be able to freely discover the blue skies above him; or contemplating the dangers of the outside world versus staying at home during the pandemic.

Several prizes have already been announced before the start date, including the Seal of Peace Award and the Gilda Award. Granted by the Municipality of Florence, the two films to win the Seal of Peace Award are Jeff Kaufman’s Nasrin and Solo no by Lucilla Mininno. Nasrin, premiering on November 26, dials in on the life and work of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights activist and lawyer who was given 148 lashes and is subject to 38 years in prison on the accusation of propaganda against the state of Iran and for appearing in public without a veil, an obligation she is passionately against. She has defended intellectuals, dissidents as well as women who marched without veils and face coverings in the streets of Tehran and other cities.  Sotoudeh has been released from jail temporarily, and this film was produced in solidarity for what she stands for and whom she is trying to help. The international premiere of Nasrin will take place on November 26 at 11 am.

Lucilla Mininno’s film Solo no follows Cecilia, an actress who is living in a theater to prevent it from being demolished to make way for a supermarket (Nov. 27). Hab, Nora Lakos’ first feature-length film, was given the Gilda Film Award, sponsored by Gilda Gradi, actress and owner of the well-known Florence bistrot. The protagonist, Dora, battles through a lost love, also while trying not to lose her bakery. After lying about her status to help revive the failing bakery, she comes to terms with reality and the possibilities that come with it (Nov. 25). Lastly, the Anti-Violence Gilda Award went to Lontano da qui by Tommaso Santi. A film meant for discussion, Santi guides viewers into identifying violence against women that is not always evident to the eye (Nov. 27, 10 am).   (cathy doherty)