FEMALE EYE FILM FESTIVAL 2012: HIGHLIGHT REVIEWS
Female Eye Film Festival `12: Highlights from North American Shorts, Foreign Filmmaker Program & Foreign Feature
The Female Eye Film Festival had a bold line-up of North American and Foreign shorts and features this year and was host to some very insightful and controversial topics, a couple of which shed light directly on issues women are faced with still today.
Terminations (8 mins), a short from the US, directed by Claire Ensslin, is the story about a girl named Maya whose outlook on life is changed completely as soon as she discovers she is pregnant. After telling her boyfriend, who comes across as being both scared yet supportive, Maya is nonetheless faced with the most difficult decision of her life; whether she will keep the child or not. The short beautifully captures the emotional challenges and changes that are faced by the protagonist whose motherly instincts kick in soon enough as Maya becomes attached to her baby. However, Maya’s strength is made visible as she begins to rationalize the situation in order to make the best possible decision for all parties involved, ultimately being prepared for the consequences that lie ahead. The short is based on a true story and tackles a very real and difficult life event. The topic of abortion is still a very current and problematic issue where populations are split between pro-choice and against it. It’s sad how there are both political and religious groups that think they have a say and right to decide and set laws prohibiting abortion. A woman’s body is hers and the ultimate decision as to what she does with it should also rest with her.
The agony of certain woman’s issues is doubled when they belong to a specific group of people. This is Me (45 mins), directed by Lori Young, is a Swedish production set in a neighbourhood of Cape Town, South Africa. The story is centered on a lesbian couple, Tarryn Langton, a forensic photographer and her girlfriend, Stacey, who are simply trying to make a home and go about their personal business without any harm or foul to anyone around them. Tarryn is in the midst of investigating a case of rape killings when she herself along with her partner, Stacey, fall victim to the gang that has been committing these crimes. Soon after the hideous crime occurs, Tarryn, along with the support of her work partner, tries to do everything within her power to bring justice to the criminals responsible by taking the case up to a senior authority figure at the station but is to no avail.
The story goes on to reveal an absolutely shocking reality about the lack of interest or care from authorities to protect gay couples being subjected to such heinous crimes of pure hatred. The film shows what happens when those in charge to serve and protect turn a blind eye to punishable acts of hostility due to intentional negligence, which often lead to unfortunate circumstances for innocent victims. The strong subject that is presented to the audience, with the grueling reality of the lack of protection and rights of lesbians, is a bitter snapshot of what is still going on in the world even today. It was a real eye-opener to see the number of lesbian women who are still raped by men versus the cases actually reported and rarely ever punished.
A Handful of Sea / Bir Avuc Deniz (113 minutes), a foreign feature and a festival favourite from Turkey, directed by Leyla Yilmaz was a very deserving winner at the festival this year. It is the story of Mert, who has been educated abroad in New York, belongs to an upper class and very socially respectable family in Istanbul, and has decided to return home to setup shop to be closer to his loved ones, especially his mother Rana. Mert, along with his friends and a very elegant and beautiful fiancée, Delik, go on a sailing cruise where he first meets sexy seductress Deniz, who is tumultuous, intelligent, high-spirited, and an artist. Mert is quite taken by the loud Deniz and her philosophy on life, easily becoming seduced by her and there begins a roller-coaster ride of a steamy yet dangerous love affair between the two. Mert is ready to turn his life upside down for Deniz despite the disapproval of his friends and mother and even at the cost of losing his steady, committed relationship with fiancée, Delik.
Although the film essentially centers on Mert and his association with people around him, the female leads play very strong roles in their individual relationships with him. At first glance Mert comes across as having a solid character, though soon enough his weak personality is made visible when we see him get played at the hands of Deniz and his mother. Personally, it was hard to feel sympathetic for Mert’s cheating character, who becomes so arrested by the love of the two strong women in his life, Deniz and his mother Rana, that he almost becomes incapacitated to make decisions and act when faced with tough situations. His behaviour is completely transformed under the influence of the temperamental and influential personality of the eccentric Deniz, which is instantly noticed and disapproved by his mother. Rana feels her son’s life is being completely destroyed by Deniz’s presence in it and makes ongoing attempts to do whatever she can within her power to “rid” him of this problem.
The fairly small budgeted film is shot in some of the most exquisite and gorgeous landscapes of Turkey. Although the story is based on a specific class within society there were always moments to which everyone could relate to, whether it was the plot itself or its really well fleshed out character plots. The romantic drama was constantly thrilling, successfully building up anxiety along the way and keeping the audience gripped throughout its scenes as the story’s pieces flowed quite naturally. Leyla’s film also delivers those insanely unexpected and climatic moments that are bound to leave the audience awe-struck, questioning and interpreting every little detail in their own way. That is essentially the first mark of a well-executed good film that is a must see.
- Myra Rehman
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