More than a Pretty Face: Five Feminist Films in the GMFF

by Sarah Davin

The Oscars ceremony this year was alive with political activism, with actors and actresses on the red carpet responding to questions about the #MeToo movement. One of the moments that stood out the most was Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech for her Oscar for best actress. After putting the spotlight on all the women at the Oscars ceremony nominated for awards, she ended her speech with two words: “inclusion rider.” Those in the film industry were quick to explain that it is an additional provision in an actor’s contract that stipulates the cast and crew must be demographically diverse.

Although film is only one industry among many, it is the one of the most visible. Films and the film industry both reflect and reinforce how we see the world, so ideally, they should represent more than just one kind of voice. The Green Mountain Film Festival has not shied away from this. It will screen a number of films that highlight women’s experiences. Here are five movies in this year’s festival featuring women in lead roles and as directors that reflect the mission of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

From “The Divine Order”

The Divine Order, directed by Petra Volpe

The Swiss film The Divine Order takes the viewer back to Switzerland in the 1970s, a time when Swiss women did not have the right to vote. The film focuses on the character of Nora, an initially passive housewife, who stands up for herself against a woman who tells her it is unnatural for women to be involved in politics. Although women of the United States have had the right to vote for almost a hundred years, this film reminds us of the real risks and threats everyday women like Nora experienced. This film is a part of the “Takin’ It to the Streets” event and will be screened at The Savoy on March 17 at 4:45 pm, March 20 at 5:30 pm, and March 24 at 6:30 pm.

Félicité, directed by Alain Gomis

The plot of Félicité centers on a strong woman determined to save her son’s life. Featuring actors who are mostly appearing on the screen for the first time, the film by Senegalese director Alain Gomis was inspired by the music of a singer, Muambuyi. In an interview on the film’s website, Gomis reflected on his choice to have this film focus on the view of a woman, when previously he had focused on men like himself. He said, “[Muambuyi] made it possible for me to imagine a story about the daily struggle of a female character in situations where life is costly but who, thanks to music, is able to see the other side.” This film will be shown at The Savoy on March 20 at 3 pm.

Signature Move, directed by Jennifer Reeder

The comedy Signature Move brings a mix of cultures, generational differences, the struggles of being gay in the United States, and “Lucha Libre” wrestling into one space. Zaynab, a Pakistani lawyer, begins a romantic relationship with the confident, Mexican-American woman, Alba. This leads Zaynab to struggle with her recently widowed mother, who wants to find her a husband. Reeder’s film takes on difficult topics with a wild and hilarious sense of humor. The film will be screened at The Savoy on March 23 at 5:45 pm.

From “Yo Soy Así, Tita De Buenos Aires”

Yo Soy Así, Tita De Buenos Aires, directed by Maria Teresa Constantini

The Argentinian film Yo Soy Así, Tita De Buenos Aires follows the life of singer and actress Tita Morello. Morello’s story began under horrible circumstances, but through her work she became a famous actress with an unforgettable voice in tango music. She is credited as having said, “My best character is the interpretation of my own self. A dramatic actress cries for herself when she interprets a theater character.” Characterized as witty, intelligent, and temperamental, it is about time we have a film about this passionate performer. The film will be screened at The Savoy on March 18 at 3:15 pm.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, directed by Alexandra Dean

Although many women aspire to be actresses, for Hedy Lamarr, stardom and societal expectations of women were a curse. Beyond being glamorous star of the Golden Era of Hollywood, Hedy Lamarr was also a skilled inventor, creating a covert communication system we use now as the basis for secure Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more. Hedy was never appreciated for technological innovations in her lifetime. Instead, she was only appreciated for her beauty. And clearly she didn’t want to overshadow her intelligence, saying, “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” Bombshell will be screened at The Savoy on March 16 at 7 pm and March 24 at 2:15 pm.

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