Editorials by the directors to each edition
Editorial to the 2022 edition
EQUALITY AS AN OBJECTIVE AND EXCELLENCE BY FLAG: FIVE YEARS OF THE MADRID FILM FESTIVAL FOR WOMEN
When we launched the festival five years ago, we had two clear intentions: we would try to show every year the great wealth and variety of the cinematography directed by women and we would only screen feature films. Based on the results and growth of these 4 editions, we believe we have more than achieved it.
Something has changed since that 2017, when we wrote the project, just before the “Me too” movement: for a couple of years the distributors and sales agencies, classifying the films in their catalogues by categories, added a new category to the usual Crime, Horror, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Teen, Musical, and so on: Female Director. The presence of female directors at the most important festivals is no longer just cosmetic. The visibility of professional women has caught on amongst the specialized press and, most notably, in 2021 and 2022 the greatest awards from the most important international and national festivals have gone to female directors. With the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, Carla Simón and Alcarràs have made history.
These awards and recognitions, added to the support of critics and the audience, mean a leverage for professionals, they create references and give young female creators means to challenge the principles of authority. Undisputed benchmarks of the Spanish cinema are Isabel Coixet, to whom we award the Festival's 2022 Professional Career Award, and Pilar Palomero, whose feature film La Maternal will premiere in Madrid during the Opening Gala.
These are good symptoms, but the inequities persist and pile up like the layers of an onion. To the historical barriers and prohibitions -material, social, economic and political-, product of a secular male domination, we must add other ceilings and injustices resulting from patriarchal and androcentric values that we do not acknowledge nor condemn because we have come to accept them: slow violence, the glass ceiling, the wage gap, gender clichés, conciliation difficulties, the null or little co-responsibility, manterrupting and mansplaining, and so on.
These barriers have caused a dramatic lack of female references in all areas and in the whole Western culture. These women have not been forgotten from the canon due to an unconscious oversight, they have been voluntarily erased by those who determine it: historians and cultural critics. This silencing is denounced in the documentary Lost Women in Art, directed by the German director Susanne Radelhof, that will be screened at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
We will also have the presence, at Filmoteca Española, of Jane Gaines, founder of the international research platform Women Film Pioneers Project, from Columbia University, which is recovering the history and names of female film pioneers.
The media, social networks and algorithms have a lot of responsibility in the perpetuation of stereotypes they are comfortable with when it comes to communicating something. In addition, they have a crucial influence on society and on social habits because they grant visibility, propose role models and reach millions of people of different ages, backgrounds and conditions every day.
Therefore, the relevant role that screenwriters have when it comes to change discourses, trends and archetypes because, to this day, our lives have been narrated from the masculine point of view. To deal with these issues, there will bd a specific round table in the Espacio Fundación Telefónica.
This year the guest country for the Focus section is the Netherlands, where in the 1970’s a large number of female directors emerged in documentary and fiction due to their historic openness and interest in other countries and cultures. We'll pay tribute to the pioneer Heddy Honigmann, screening her latest film, as well as the work of internationally recognized directors such as Halina Reijn, Urszula Antoniak, Aliona van der Horst, Karin Junger and Gioia Smid at the Academia de Cine and at Cineteca.
To fight for a greater gender equality, a greater social diversity and for a historical rectification of the canonical narrative is not just a "women's issue". Men must also be involved, as it concerns all of us.
Because if we manage to change all of the above-mentioned inequalities, instead of talking about cinema "made by women", we would simply talk about cinema, which is what we really want: to turn the page and start a new social contract.
Carlota Álvarez Basso and Diego Mas Trelles, codirectors
Editorial to the 2021 edition
Great women movie director: they exist indeed!
2020 was a disastrous year for humanity from all points of view, but especially for global health and global economy. The film industry has been particularly affected, with the stoppage of shooting, poor box office results and the consolidation of new platforms, which have seen their role reinforced during confinement. No one doubts that we are facing a new audiovisual order that is challenging the traditional model of circulation of audiovisual production and the cultural consumption habits of the viewers. It was decided to delay the release in theaters of big movies, or it was chosen to premiere them directly on digital platforms, while viewers stayed at home. Many people are afraid of seeing movies in theaters, and furthermore, they are replacing watching feature films with series. It seems that the previous scheme of circulation of films by festivals -> premiere in cinemas -> sale of rights to televisions or platforms, is also in crisis. However, in parallel, we are in a sweet moment for production: at this moment more than 4,600 series are being produced in the world of which 75 are Spanish. A whole paradigm shift which we still don't know how to tackle.
It seems that these transitions are here to stay and, of course, they have also been reflected in the nominations for the Goya Awards 2021, in which the strong entry in the main categories of smaller films or first operas has attracted attention, compared to previous years in which Spanish blockbusters dominated the nominations, and of course, the high female presence has been noted.
When the film industry is in turmoil ... the benefit goes to women working in it: 41% of the nominations went to women compared to 21.5% in the past year 2020. These Goya Awards 2021 would pass the Bechdel Test (1). In 9 categories, 50% or more of the nominees are women; The Best Direction of Photography has been taken, for the first time, by a woman, Daniela Cajías for Las chicas. In addition, although for 4 editions the award for Best New Direction had already been awarded to women directors (Carla Simón, Arantxa Echevarría, Belén Funes), in this edition the film Las niñas, by director Pilar Palomero, has won both the award for Best Original Screenplay and for Best Film, equaling Pilar Miró, Isabel Coixet and Icíar Bollaín, and obtaining, in addition, 4 Gaudí Awards.
We also noticed the change in the award-winning films in the most important international festivals of 2021, since in all of them the great prizes (Best Film and / or best direction) have gone to women:
- Sundance Festival: “CODA” by Sian Heder, which will open our 4th edition
- Oscars: Chloé Zhao's “Nomadland”
- Cannes Film Festival: “Titane” by Julia Ducournau
- Venice Film Festival: “The Event” by Audrey Diwan
- San Sebastian Festival: “Blue Moon” by Alina Grigore
Given that the presence of women in the cinema is still far from balanced, it is worth asking what is the real reason for this sudden increase: Is this trend the result of the struggles for the presence of women in the audiovisual world? Is it the consequence of the normalization of a natural process of greater parity in the sector? In Spain, is it the product of the new valuation quotas for the participation of women in technical teams by the Institute of Cinematography and Visual Arts (ICAA)? Or is it, as the filmmaker Belén Funes suspected, because male directors “left the party”? She stated “I feel that it is a very odd year to be evaluated in normal terms. Men have saved their big budget movies to be released next year because there weren't going to be people in theaters this year. We are at a party where those who usually come are not there”.
We believe that this good harvest of 2021 has been the result of the sum of all these factors. There’s no doubt this year's awards are sending a powerful signal: the movies industry is beginning to change course towards a destination in which the women have a lot to say. THEY EXIST INDEED.
Carlota Álvarez Basso, Diego Mas Trelles
September 2021 IV edition
(1) Created by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the test measures the gap of women representation in fiction. It requires at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man.
Editorial to the 2020 edition
Seeing differently, with or without COVID 19
The Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda is "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls". Thus, parity is a human right and a duty of humanity everywhere in the world and in all spheres of life. This is a complex process that has evolved through the stages of history, and thus the adoption of feminism and its declines are diverse in each country. Fortunately, in 2020, all over the world we were experiencing a peak of feminist action... until COVID 19 came and the pandemic brought everything to a standstill.
That's why we believe that this festival is more necessary than ever, not only because of its support for creative women, but also because of the urgency of resuming our "frozen" lives, returning to the cinemas and, at the same time, taking advantage of the possibilities of online formats. Perhaps this global shutdown will help us to take the unavoidable steps to rewrite the history of women, of their creations, of their achievements, of their position in society and... in the cinematographic narrative.
Critic Pilar Aguilar recently pointed out: "Quotas have always existed: the male ones". This was the "natural" thing to do, as we are immersed in a value system that does not recognise what 50% of the population does, legitimising only the work carried out by men and attributing false premises to femininity, such as fragility and submission.
These prejudices have also been present in the audiovisual language, which urgently needs to get rid of these clichés, as well as the self-impositions that many women assume during our lives: we have to unlearn what we have learned.
III edition press conference. From left to right, Diego Mas Trelles, co-director; Inma Flor, head of communication and institutional relations at the Polish Institute of Culture; Rebeca Guinea, director of programming at Casa de América; Carlota Álvarez Basso, co-director; Beatriz Gimeno, director of the Women's Institute; Andrés Pérez Perruca, head of programming activities at Espacio Fundación Telefónica; Azucena Rodríguez, film director; and Manuel Cristóbal, audiovisual industry advisor at the Madrid Regional Board of Culture and Tourism.
Fortunately, both in Spain and internationally, there is a new generation of female directors and professionals fighting for an equal place in an industry that should apply the same support, budgets, criteria and demands to them as to other filmmakers. This is evident in the movies you can see in this festival: great works from different countries that show this creative diversity, telling stories with original points of view, with other ways of filming roles and telling with emotion relevant themes for all audiences.
With or without COVID 19 we must continue to feminise the whole chain of cultural value production: creation->production->promotion->distribution->consumption. To this end, we women will continue to build alliances with women and men who want to make room for the multiplicity and diversity of views that enrich us. Like the entities and companies that support this festival: a community of people who, with their efforts and resources, are contributing to change the situation. They are joined by our allies, the creators and the audience, who help us to change and build the future with the name of equality.
Carlota Álvarez Basso and Diego Mas Trelles, co-directors
November 2020 III edition
Editorial to the 2019 edition
It's our momentum!
The time has come... and if socially the perception of things is the sum of the particular considerations of many people, we understand why many media designated 2018 as the Year of Women.
The situation of social effervescence that we are experiencing after the globalisation of the Me Too and Time's Up movements, the massive women's demonstrations on 8 March 2018 and 2019, the social reaction throughout Spain to the verdict of "la manada" case, the implementation or deepening in some countries of parity policies as a formula to double the pool of talent and take advantage of the potential for prosperity that they bring... they have come to stay.
Sociology shows that it is impossible to erase at a stroke the social changes embedded in the social body (when in 1799, after the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte re-established canonical marriage, the population continued to marry mostly civilly, a union established by the revolutionaries). We can therefore be sure that the general awareness of the problems relating to the status of women, the achievements made in favour of our personal freedom, our greater participation in all areas of society and the transition towards a more egalitarian society are irreversible processes.
Teresa Font, the film editor who won the Award to a Professional Career, with the festival's codirectors, Carlota Álvarez Basso and Diego Mas Trelles
But this is only the beginning. The only way for these changes to generate tangible results is by betting on solidarity between genders, working side by side among all of us, joining forces and organising concrete actions. That's why, when we launched this festival in 2018, we decided to move from words... to actions.
Cinema entertains but also proposes models and, as we are aware that in order to change things we have to make visible female referents that are inspiring for creators, citizens and politicians, during these 6 days in Madrid you will have the opportunity to learn live with great professionals of national and international cinema.
You will also be able to attend the screening of 38 excellent films aimed at all audiences, an exhibition of 5 pieces of Virtual Reality, 5 round tables, 6 conferences, as well as debates, film presentations and talks with their directors.
The success of this titanic task depends not only on our efforts, but also on the complicity of the creators, the support of our dear sponsors, the media, the educational system and yours.
Join us and participate! Don't miss out!
Carlota Álvarez Basso and Diego Mas Trelles, co-directors
March 2019 II edition
Editorial to the 2018 edition
Women were present in the history of cinema from the very first minute: just look at the factory workers' exit filmed by Louis Lumière in 1895, where two shifts of men, women and children crossed paths at the factory gates. At that time, Alice Guy-Blaché was twenty-two years old and perhaps already knew that she was going to devote herself to cinema: in fact, she shot and produced more than 600 movies, even competing with the legendary Hollywood of silent films.
It was not until 1949 that Ida Lupino, known as an actress, took the reins of directing the film she had co-produced and co-written when her director, Elmer Clifton, suffered a heart attack, although she would not appear in the credits as director out of respect for Clifton. She would go on to direct 8 more, including the well-known Outrage, about a rape, and was the first woman to direct a film noir. She never gave up directing, achieving great success as a director of television series in the 1960s and 70s.
However, we will have to accept that she was an exception. Women are neither then nor now represented in a balanced way, neither in culture nor in cinema.
It is still difficult for sets and clapperboards to speak female, for scripts to tell how women see the world and for actresses to play characters conceived by women.
We had to wait until 2010 to see the Hollywood Academy award the first Oscar to a woman director, Californian Kathryn Bigelow, and until 2018 in Spain for two women directors to win the Goya Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best New Director: Isabel Coixet and Carla Simon. Although the figures have improved since then, it is clear that women are fighting on a daily basis on The hurt locker, to paraphrase the title of the Oscar-winning film.
This inequality must be redressed. We need the multiple voices and perspectives of women and men in all artistic manifestations. We need to make room for women as creators, as interpreters of reality, to be recognised in the film industry and by the public.
Carlota Álvarez Basso and Diego Mas Trelles, co-directors
March 2018 I edition
From left to right and from top to bottom, some of the 2018 edition's directors: Laura Mora, Hanna Sköld, Pernilla August, Constanza Novick, Katja Wik, Sara Broos, Sophie Fiennes, Francesca Comencini, Nora Twomey and Marcela Said