Cinematic girl power returns to the Sie FilmCenter on Tuesday, March 17, as the Voices Women + Film Festival begins its fifth edition with a globetrotting slate of new films, filmmakers and discussions by, for and about women — one of the most underserved festival audiences. “I think this is one of our most eclectic lineups that’s ever been put together,” says Tammy Brislin, co-founder and producer of the nearly weeklong event. “The scope of films this year is the most global we’ve ever had, which just makes the representation of women and their many stories the world over just that much richer.”
Over the last five years Voices has made great strides to become more than just rallying cry to get more representation for women not just on the big screen, but with big issues. “The seed for Voices was planted six years ago after reading the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn," remembers Brislin. "And within the same time frame watching a documentary about a woman in Burundi, Africa who stood up to the men in her village and instigated big changes. It struck me that for every tragic story of human-rights violations and abuse, there is a story of courage and tenacity. It is important to acknowledge those who beat the odds to affect change.”
Woman have made great breakthroughs in many places of media — from writing to performance and art — but film continues to be the final frontier for women to truly break through, and Voices has laid a clear path. “Film is the most impactful and engaging way to present these stories to our audience and I wanted to inspire people to get off their bum and use their voice for change,” continues Brislin. “Together with the Denver Film Society and Barbara Bridges, founder of Women + Film, we started a film festival anchored around the theme of International Women’s Day.” And that ignition continues to catch fire.
Voices runs through March 22, and ticket are already scarce for many of the films and events at Voices — a sure sign of success and growth. Here are four events you should grab tickets for now; Brislin says they are not to be missed:
Screens 7 p.m. Thursday, March 19
“Director Celine Sciamma explores the inner lives of characters typically overlooked in French film — namely, the black teens who congregate in shopping centers, subways and courtyards. Presenting a non-judgmental story of a sixteen-year-old just trying to figure out her path amid a girl gang," explains Brislin. The film be introduced by Melinda Barlow, associate professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.
3) The VOICES Salon Series
Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22
The festival is host to moments of deep discussion and introspection — and not just about what plays on the screen. “This is always my favorite event," says Brislin. “We are lucky to have such an engaging, smart, thoughtful audience, and I love gathering everyone together for a good discussion. This year our Salons will cover topics such as female TV and film producers, women in politics and, lastly, how YouTube and Vimeo are changing the way filmmakers cultivate their audience.”
2) The Amina Profile
Screens 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21
“This documentary is the true account of an online chat that turned steamy, between a French woman in Montreal and a lesbian blogger in Syria during their uprising. The director weaves a cautionary tale about the power of online influence and online identity. I really liked how filmmaker Sophie Deraspe blended all the elements together to tell the story,” says Brislin.
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1) The Keeping Room
7 p.m. Sunday, March 22
Voices closes out this year’s festival with a film starring Brit Marling (Another Earth, The Sound of My Voice), who has quickly become one of independent film’s most fascinating actresses. “The story looks at the closing days of the Civil War, where three women — two sisters and a slave — fight to protect themselves and their home,” says Brislin. “The story is based on Julia Hart’s revered 2012 Black List screenplay. It has been described by Indiewire as 'a feminist western with bite' and 'a beautifully breathless revisionist western' midway between Cold Mountain and Straw Dogs.”