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Women on Fire at REC Tarragona

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- The Catalonian gathering dedicated its focus to female directors and professionals aiming to balance out gender inequality in the film industry

Women on Fire at REC Tarragona
(l-r) Xavi G Puerto, Franziska Hoenisch and Anael Snoëk

Five years since its special focus entitled “Girls on Fire”, the REC Film Festival in Tarragona returned for its 17th edition with a specialised zoom on female directors bearing the title “Women on Fire”, which had already started in November with the screening of the films Júlia ist [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Elena Martín
film profile
]
by Elena Martín (Spain), Rara by Pepa San Martín (Chile/Argentina), Chavela [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi (USA/Spain/Mexico), and The Summer of Sangaile [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Alanté Kavaïté
film profile
]
by Alante Kavaite (Lithuania/France/Netherlands).

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Women on Fire continued and expanded on this focus during the Tarragona-based festival (4-10 December), as four of the films that participated in REC’s “Opera Prima” Official Competition were directed by debutant female directors – more precisely, Killing Jesus by Laura Mora Ortega (Colombia), Los Perros [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Marcela Said (Chile/Argentina/Portugal/Germany/France), Club Europa [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
by Franziska M Hoenisch (Germany) and The Sower [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Marine Francen
film profile
]
 by Marine Francen (France/Belgium). Meanwhile, People That Are Not Me [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
 by Hadas ben Aroya (Israel) and The Lure [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Agnieszka Smoczyńska
film profile
]
 by Agnieszka Smoczynska (Poland) were in the special programme.

The section wrapped up with the specialised professional conference “Women on Fire_Women in the European Audiovisual Industry”, which was held on 8 December and saw the participation of acclaimed film professionals. Through a series of three panels, the conference aimed to shed light on the role of women and the challenges they face in today’s industry, in all its main sectors.

The conference began with “Women in Audiovisual Production and Creative Responsibility in Projects”, where, after an initial statement by Francine H Raveney, founder, former director and head of research for the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA), the panel (moderated by Núria Araüna, with Marla Jacarilla, plastic artist, audiovisual critic and co-editor of Contrapicado, and Carla Sospedra, producer at Miss Wasabi Films) discussed the presence of women in creative positions in the industry. Despite a number of positive recent outcomes, women are still excluded from key positions, especially as directors, producers and scriptwriters. Furthermore, their roles seem to be marginalised, and even if their talent is acknowledged, their recognition and actual active participation remain low, a situation that seems likely to improve if the necessary actions can be taken in the near future.

The second panel, moderated by REC’s director, Xavi Garcia Puerto, dealt with the issue, “The Representation of Femininity and Women in the Contemporary Audiovisual Sector”. Starting off with the Bechdel test, which establishes a series of guidelines to determine whether a film can go beyond a male-dominated point of view and include female characters with an active presence, Anael Snoëk, an actress in The Wild Boys [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bertrand Mandico
film profile
]
, and Franziska Hoenisch, director of Club Europa, analysed the participation of women in the film industry. Taking as its starting point the false prototypes that cinema can create and which can then be used as stereotypical examples that usually objectify female characters in films, the discussion also delved into the influence of feminism and the slow evolution of mindsets in today’s industry.

Sales agent and distributor for German outfit Films Boutique Valeska Neu and producer, deputy director of the Sofia International Film Festival and head of Sofia Meetings Mira Staleva participated in the final panel, “Criticism and Programming as Activities That Bring Visibility to Women’s Works and Voices in the Audiovisual Sector”. Basing the discussion on the extremely poor presence of films directed by women at leading European festivals, the participants focused on the real need to offer visibility to women’s work in various showcases, based on purely artistic criteria. Expanding on the differences between Western and Eastern Europe, where the participation of women in key roles seems higher, the panel agreed that it was more important to devote more resources to education and actively invest in females’ engagement with the industry, instead of blindly following the restrictions that a suggested percentage-based gender quota might impose.

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Structural Constellations
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