Berlin Feminst Film Festival

Interview With Karin Fornander and Lucía Martín of Berlin Feminist Film week

It seems as though every week in Berlin there is a new film festival. I’m not complaining, because I love watching films, I think the cinema is one of my greatest educators. One of the coolest festivals I’ve been to recently was the Berlin Feminist Film Week, so I got in contact with them to talk about what it’s like to run a film festival in Berlin, and how a feminist film week works.

On a rainy Good Friday, almost two weeks after the festival has finished, I meet up with Karin and Lucia in a Neukölln bakery to discuss the third year of the Berlin Feminist Film week. This year, Fornander said there were 2500 audience members for the films, many of whom also attended the discussion panels, live music, art installations and club night, 1000 more than the previous year. Karin describes the need for a platform like this in Berlin, having come from Sweden where equality is a massive topic. She felt that when she arrived in Berlin, there was a platform missing here, and after trying to put together a program with the Mobile Kino, she decided to just jump in the deep end and start a mini festival of her own.

berlin feminist film weekThe Berlin Feminist Film (BFF) week was primarily to reach out to those women who weren’t really involved with the feminist movement, a place where they could access and understand the struggle women are still up against, not only in the film industry, but also in everyday life, and judging by the letter Lucia received from a woman after the festival saying she had never considered herself a feminist until after the experience she’d had at BFF, it seemed they succeeded.

The program kicked off with a film about women’s involvement in the civil rights movement on International Women’s Day, and progressed through LGBT* struggles in South Africa, a brunch with a comedian about women in comedy and finished with a documentary about social workers in Canada who looked after expectant mothers with drug addictions.

Body positivity is something that has been prevalent in the media recently, with women having more pressure to look good or else facing ridicule for their bodies not fitting social expectations. During the BFF, a program of shorts about body positivity was shown alongside a panel discussion and Q&A. The relevance to this kind of space for women to talk about their “bingo wings” and laugh at the ridiculousness of body shaming was shown through the speed at which this event sold out. ‘Sleeveless / Fearless’, directed by Hinni Huttunen explored the stigma around the fat, female body and attempted to challenge societies expectations of how we see women in front of the camera. Just under two minutes long, the director stood in front of the camera and shook her arms and then pulled her hands into fists, showing how she was strong, beautiful and confident in her own skin.

Being a successful Hollywood female director in the film industry is not impossible, as shown by Haifaa Al Mansour, Nancy Meyers, Sofia Coppola and Andrea Arnold. However, there is still a long way to go to get some level of equality. Both Lucia and Karin said they believed a festival like this is relevant because of the lack of representation and recognition of women, people of colour and the LGBT* community. Although a festival like the BFF won’t change the world, it is critiquing the lack of diversity in the film industry right now, and hopefully assisting the work of women who may have not been given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.