Ladyfest London is an arts festival which celebrates female creativity in all its forms. There have been Ladyfests all over the world and this year it’s London’s turn to host this exciting event. Showcasing women’s talents in music, art, comedy, photography, film and spoken word, Ladyfest London will be taking place on May 9-11, 2008. The ladies are currently seeking submissions from filmmakers and musicians. If you want to get involved, visit their MySpace. Upcoming events include a Samanthan Morton double bill at the Rio Cinema on March 16 and a Ladyfest-sponsored shorts programme at the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on March 30. Below, organisers Kanchi Wichmann and Josefeen Foxter tell us about their favourite films.
1- Mi vida loca (My Crazy Life, 1993)
I was a teenager sharing a house with five guys who liked action, sci-fi, etc, and this is the first film I remember watching ‘cos it had a female director. It’s about a Hispanic girl ‘gang’ living in the Echo Park area of LA, but the film avoids all those clichéd ways of portraying people in gangs as a menace to society. I was a big Love and Rockets fan (the comic not the band) so it was really cool to see this world I knew from the comic books on screen.
2- Daisies (1966)
I was a film student bored by the French new wave when I discovered the Czech new wave! Vera ChytilovÃ¡ was the only female director in this movement and this film is amazing. I had never seen a feature film using such artistic techniques with no linear narrative, but still using actors, dialogue, etc. This film opened up a whole new world to me of arty/abstract/non-linear narrative cinema and I realised that there are actually loads of women making really cool films. I started working at the London Filmmakers Coop and discovered Tanya Syed, Alia Syed, Su Friedrich, Maya Deren, Abigail Child, Barbara Hammer, Chantal Ackerman’s first feature Je, tu, il, elle and many many more.
3- I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Lili Taylor is so cool as Valerie. And this is such a well-made film. The Scum Manifesto changed my life. This film helped to bring Valerie to the masses. I heart Valerie Solanas.
4- By Hook or by Crook (2001)
I was so glad that this film existed and luckily the directors Silas Howard and Harriet Dodge were at the screening I attended so I could tell them so afterwards. It is a great film, a butch lesbian buddy movie, and I also liked the fact that they wrote, directed and acted in it. I also love Tribe 8 (The band Silas plays in) and the film Rise Above – The Tribe 8 Story. It is totally inspiring to see (queer) women like this up on screen.
5- Cecil B. DeMented (2000)
I was working in a cinema and we showed this as a late show. Loads of us came in especially and it was such fun, this film was us (except for the guns in the popcorn)… And it’s got Harriet Dodge (see above) in it. John Waters is one of my favourite filmmakers.
6- Fire (1996)
I saw this film just after I got back from six months in India. It had got right under my skin but I was deeply struck by the appalling position of women in Indian society and the use of religious mythology to perpetuate this. Fire is such a sensuous, evocative work, addressing deeply taboo issues. The fact that on its opening day in India Hindu fundamentalists attacked theatres and that this film about love was eventually banned for religious insensitivity are indications of its significance.
7- Orlando (1992)
‘The longest and most charming love-letter in literature’ from Virginia Woolf to (and about) Vita Sackville West was adapted for the screen by Sally Potter. The luminous Tilda Swinton slips through transgenerational, transgendered gorgeousness exploring the transient nature of power, culture and love.
8- Ma vie en rose (1997)
A sweet look at gender identity in children as experienced by Ludovic, who knows instinctively he is a girl and trusts that a supernatural force will bring a natural resolution to the erroneous circumstance of him being in the wrong body. His endearing hopefulness and optimism permeate the film right to the end.
9- Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
You know it’s never going to end in anything but grief when you start watching this powerful film about sexual transgression and retribution in the Midwest ‘burbs. Hilary Swank’s Teena Brandon is a compelling blend of contradictions… the search for one’s authentic self and having the courage to live it out is an endlessly fascinating subject.
10- Herstory of Porn (1999)
I love Annie Sprinkle, she’s one of the first sex-positive artists who called herself a feminist as well.