It’s 2022, yet, it’s predominantly white cishet men who make movies about marginalised women. “Things need to change,” says Sólrún Freyja Sen, the coordinator of the RVK Feminist Festival, which kicked off on May 5. In our conversation, Solrún speaks on the importance of giving a platform for the voices of underrepresented women, the festival’s goals, and tells us which movies you can’t miss at this year’s edition.
The idea behind the festival
The RVK Feminist Festival started in 2020. Its third edition was initially scheduled for early January, but had to be postponed due to COVID-19 regulations in Iceland. With all restrictions taken down now, the festival is back on the table, though its programme had to change. “The festival focuses on giving women a platform to show their films; most importantly, marginalised women, e.g., women who are not cisgender, LGBTQ+ women, and women representing different races,” says Solrún, pointing out that among the issues the festival wants to highlight is domestic and sexual abuse, women in violent relationships, and homeless pregnant women.
No such thing as a feminist paradise
To an outsider like me, Iceland does look like a great place to be a woman. Is there a need for a festival specifically dedicated to female filmmakers? “I know a lot of feminists here are not happy about Iceland being perceived as a feminist paradise,” Sólrún points out. “Things are a lot better here than in many places, but we are still very far from an ideal feminist paradise. Women, and especially marginalised women, are underrepresented in the film industry. We want women and marginalised people to be able to make films about their reality.’’
Sólrún agrees, however, that things are slowly changing. Female film directors have been receiving more publicity and respect in recent years. In Iceland in particular, there are more grants from film associations focused on promoting female directors. “But the percentage of female filmmakers versus male filmmakers is still very low and far from equal,” assures Sólrún. “This festival is a chance for female film filmmakers to meet up and network, which is often a challenge for women who love to make films.”
Diverse film programme
When I ask Sólrún which movies she recommends seeing at the festival, she’s both excited and puzzled. “Oh my God, there are so many,” she says. The festival program spans across a number of continents and themes, from Iceland to the African continent, from drama films to animation shorts.
The opening film, ‘RAFIKI’ by Wanuri Kahiu, who CNN has called “one of Africa’s most aspiring directors”, tells the story of two Kenyan women falling in love. The film was actually banned in Kenya, and the director is coming all the way here to screen her work.
In addition, the RVK Feminist Film Festival will host many satellite events one might want to visit in between movie screenings: Q&As with directors, a short film competition, networking parties, and even a fashion show. In collaboration with Elísabet Ósk Vigfúsdóttir, founder of Urðarbrunnur, an organisation that provides housing for pregnant women who have faced homelessness or addiction, the festival will also organise a panel discussion with a fundraiser.
Towards the end of our conversation, I wonder who Sólrún thinks should come to the RVK Feminist Film Festival. “Everyone who loves films,” she answers assuredly. I’m certainly convinced. With a noble goal, great selection of films and a chance to meet the filmmakers in person, there’s something on offer for all movie fans, regardless of their gender or background.
See the full programme at: rvkfemfilmfest.is
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