Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stories about women and by female directors at IFI Stranger Than Fiction

IFI Stranger Than Fiction returns to the IFI this week, and I was delighted to learn that more than half the films in this year’s impressive lineup have a female director. This news is particularly encouraging, given recent reports on the woefully low representation of women directors in fiction filmmaking and across the water in TV drama.


Clearly the ladies are not just representing themselves in the world of factual narrative but very much rising to the top of their game. This can only be good news for industry and audience – competition may be a rude motivation, but it’s always effective – and we all benefit when the best person is behind the camera.

Aisling Gheal

So what have this year’s STF audiences to look forward to? Well, quite a lot actually, thanks to some insightful programming, an exciting series of workshops and a wealth of compelling new stories from viewpoints on both sides of the gender divide. Audiences will be treated to Irish premieres of festival darlings The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers, Leviathan, and Dragon Girls, as well as home grown greats Here Was Cuba, Close to Evil and Aisling Gheal.

After Tiller

After Tiller also gets its Irish premiere at STF – never more timely – as it powerfully addresses the abortion debate, albeit in America. When will someone be brave enough to back an Irish examination of this subject matter? Kim Longinotto’s Salma presents another strong feminist viewpoint – the story of a Muslim woman who writes her escape out of family servitude.

Jeanie Finlay (The Great Hip Hop Hoax)

Another interesting and practical aspect of the festival is the planned series of workshops, in particular Breaking into Documentary (FREE event) and Building an International Documentary Company. Documentary makers and film lovers alike will have the opportunity to engage with panels of internationally renowned documentary makers, including Sundance winner Havana Marking, Jeanie Finlay, as well as our own hugely talented Emer Reynolds, Andrew Freedman, Cathal Gaffney and Risteard Ó Domhnaill.

Reality Bites Documentary Shorts

Feature documentary is experiencing something of a golden age internationally, and is without doubt an area for continued growth and support here at home. The future is bright for new Irish talent (whose work can be seen in the Eat My Shorts strand), and with a diverse range of stories and voices coming to the fore, audiences have a lot to look forward to. So, whether it’s sean nós, kung fu or the Cuban Missile Crisis you’re after, get down to IFI Stranger Than Fiction and join the conversation.

Rachel Lysaght
Women in Film & Television Ireland

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