2017 may be the year for the emergence of new festivals and the first one off the blocks is the Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF). De rigueur, the festival will celebrate the dedicated, hard-working and talented women in the Australian screen industry.
Part of the Festival is looking forward and part of it is about celebrating the enormous achievements of the past. The Opening Night Gala features The Cheaters a 1929 film with live music performance by the critically acclaimed and ARIA Award winning, Zulya and the Children of the Underground. Described as having “flashes of the Weimer Republic [that] collide with hints of Rota, Zappa, Gypsy music and jazz” (Sydney Morning Herald), the music of Zulya and the Children of the Underground will create an atmospheric, lively and at times haunting soundtrack to The Cheaters’ 1920s Australian gangster milieu. What makes The Cheaters special is that it was a film made by three sisters, the McDonaghs – pioneers of the Australian screen. This is a tale of love, crime and familial tensions. It was a film that was made originally as a silent drama and then remade the following year with sound to incorporate the new technology.
There is a program of shorts drawn from Australian films originally screened at the 1975 International Women’s Film Festival alongside contemporary experimental and art cinema works. The content explores the complexities and diversity of women’s perspectives, women’s bodies and alternate ways of seeing.
The festival also features a range of panels with prominent and passionate speakers addressing the issue of “between 1975 and today – what have we learned about Women’s Filmmaking?”, which will feature women working in the industry today, including filmmakers, festival programmers and critics: Linda Blagg, Annette Blonski, Suzanne Spunner and Victoria Waghorn.
The screenings are taking place at the refurbished Treasury Cinema – the home of independent cinema prior to the birth of ACMI from 3 March. For more info and tickets go to http://www.mwff.com.au/festival2017/