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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Strong Women and Supportive Men

Each year I go to the Filmfest Hamburg and wonder how many women directors there are. A few years ago the festival said that they would try to invite more women directors so I decided to take a count.

Film Categories            Male Directors            Female Directors

Freihafen                       9                                 2

Hamburger Filmschau     8                                 4

Veto!                             8                                 3

Transatlantik                  7                                 4

Asia Express                  10                                2

Violá!                            11                                1

Vitrina                           13                                1

Euruvisuell                     3                                 3

Mexiko DeLuxe               8                                 0

Kaleidoskop                   17                                5

16:9 (TV)                      16                                3

The Michel Filmfest         6                                 7

The Winning Film Directors: 6                             3

So, If I wanted to become a director, it looks like I would have to work in children‘s films , or work in North America but not in Mexico, France or Asia. Surprising this year was to see how many of the films had strong female characters despite having male directors. A perfect example of this is French director Paul Verhoeven‘s film ELLE. Michele is the daughter of a psychopath and has a reputation for being a tough broad that has everything under her thumb. Even with the opening scene when she is sexually assaulted, she fights back hard enough and keeps her cool where any other woman would fall apart. In the Indian film 2 GIRLS, director Jeo Baby says women should have the same rights as we do since they are just as much a part of our world. It is only natural to want a strong woman or, as in this case,a strong girl. In BENEATH THE SILENCE, Daphna’s husband Menashe is suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome which was a result of the Six-Day War, and she is left to be the strong one of the family to pull it together for their young son Shlomi. The brilliant Iranian film INVERSION, by director Behnam Behzadi, shows how Niloofar is being forced to move out of Tehran by her siblings due to her unwed status, despite the fact that she runs a tailor shop and has a group of women depending on her. She then makes a surprising stand against this male dominated society.

There were also several surprises among the women directors. The Bulgarian film GODLESS by director Ralitza Petrova, created an icy cold environment where gray-colored walls, corruption and heartless men seem to rule this world. The main character Gana’s only chance in life seems to be taking care of old people and stealing their IDs to make extra money. Is there any chance of a different life for her? In SAMI BLOOD by Amanda Kernell, we look at a woman who chooses to run away from her northern Lapland roots and tries to fit into the mainstream Swedish life styles. It is a struggle that pushes her to fight the ethic prejudges of the times. I can honestly say that I felt that this year’s Hamburg Film festival, despite its ratios of having more male than female directors, was successful in honoring the strong women role models that are often not present at the films. I look forward to what they will come with for next year.

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