Radical feminists meet riot grrls at film fest

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DON'T be scared of the F word, say the organizers of the 2005 Sugar & Splice film festival.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/05/2005 (6339 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DON’T be scared of the F word, say the organizers of the 2005 Sugar & Splice film festival.

F for feminist, that is.

You can find all kinds of feminisms at this four-night program, from a documentary about the old-school radicalism of Audre Lorde, the African-American lesbian poet (The Edge of Each Other’s Battles), to a riot-grrl look at Amazon bikers (The Amazing Amazons).

Feature-length films include Under Wraps: A Film About Going with the Flow, Teresa MacInnes’s demystifying doc about menstruation, and Born in Flames, a feminist Trotskyite New Wave sci-fi fable from Lizzie Borden. Released in 1983, this no-budget dystopian film has become a kind of cult classic for the political crowd. Supporters often call it revolutionary; detractors sometimes call it unwatchable.

Karen Duthie’s documentary 100% Woman looks at the life of Michelle Dumaresq, the B.C.-based competitive mountain biker whose athletic achievements are controversial because she happens to have been born a boy named Michael. The style is straightforward point-and-shoot, but the subject is approached with complexity and compassion. Duthie examines a range of reactions to the transgendered Dumaresq, from those who support her, to those who believe she might have an unfair advantage from some residual maleness, to those who think her a freak of nature.

Maid in America by Anayansi Prado tracks three Latina immigrant women working as domestics in Los Angeles. Prado looks at their human stories — they have left their own children to care for American families — while raising larger questions about globalization and workers’ rights.

The festival highlights shorts, including a seven-film compilation from Atlantic Canada. Film Fatale features poignant personal memoirs, a whimsical animated salute to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s eight husbands, and a mockumentary about a woman caught in Halifax traffic for seven days.

Ladies First: Ladies’ Firsts is the latest release in the Winnipeg Film Group’s series of retrospective DVDs. Curated by local director Carole O’Brien, the collection looks back at over 15 years of films, including the pansexual experimental kookiness of Jennifer Bisch’s The Arousing Adventures of Sailor Boy, Maureen Devanik Butterfield’s Dames, a stylish and hard-boiled feminist take on film noir, and Under the Rocking Horse, Kelli Shinfield’s trippy Freudian twist on growing up in suburbia. The films make a good counterbalance to the guyville vibe of a lot of WFG work.

The Shorts Competition showcases 10 films — some local, some national — including meditations on identity (Dialogue), family history (Together But Separate, Post-Partum), sexuality (Coolie Gyal) and, of course, the peril and promise of cute boys (The Hard Facts of a Rock’n’Roll Crush).

The festival also features a panel discussion with local filmmakers Danishka Esterhazy, Shawna Dempsey and O’Brien, along with out-of-towner Lia Rinaldo, the director of the Atlantic Film Festival, as well as a kickoff party on Thursday night and a gala wrapup on Sunday.

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