Women's voices on the screen
by Irem Koker
ISTANBUL - A special screening of "Shooting Women," by the American director Alexis Krasilovsky, was held at the home of U.S. Consul General Sharon Wiener on Thursday. According to a diplomat, showing a film about women demonstrates 'strict non-discrimination policy'.
On a rainy Istanbul night, around 30 women - and a few men - laughed and reacted together as they gazed at a wall-mounted screen. The audience members came from different age groups, occupations and statuses, but all recalled the difficulties they faced in their lives as they watched the hour-long documentary "Shooting Women."
Contrary to what the movie's name might suggest, it tells the stories not of women who are victims of violence, but of those who have stepped behind the camera in the film industry, taking a position long regarded as a "man's job."
A special screening of "Shooting Women," by the American director Alexis Krasilovsky, was held at the home of U.S. Consul General Sharon Wiener on Thursday. The showing of a film about women, directed by a woman, at a female diplomat's residence, demonstrates the same "strict policy of non-discrimination," as one diplomat described it, as the elevation of a woman, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to conduct the foreign policy of the most influential country in the world.
The documentary, which will be screened at the 7th Filmmor Women's Film Festival in Turkey, is about camerawomen surviving against the odds in Hollywood, Bollywood and other global film hubs. Krasilovsky, a professor at California State University, Northridge, and her crew conducted dozens of interviews around the world with women who shared their challenges, aspirations and individual visions.
"Two things surprised me enormously while making this film," Krasilovsky said. "First was finding camerawomen in France and India whose film industries have been so much more supportive than Hollywood." She said it is discouraging that only 2 percent of the directors of photography of the 250 top-grossing films in Hollywood are women. Krasilovsky said the second surprise came when she was introduced to camerawomen of the Self-Employed Women's Video Association, a group that helped rural Indian villages struck by an earthquake that killed 20,000 people by picking up cameras and influencing policymakers.
"I work with no budget, or in a debt situation where passion has made me blind to the financial realities and difficulties," Krasilovsky said. She said her determination to continue bringing women's issues to the screen despite the challenges she faces comes from her desire to give voice to women around the world. When asked about the commonality of women in various countries where she has worked, she said the issue of sexual harassment was one that was almost universally discussed.
"I started in cinema in 1970, at the beginning of the second wave of feminism, [when women were] coming out strong with political statements and art pieces that were specifically feminist," Krasilovsky said. "Way back then, I was interested in the voicelessness of women and what we can save through gestures and images as we try to undo the voicelessness."
"Shooting Women" will be screened at the French Cultural Center in Taksim on Saturday at 3 p.m. and at the Istanbul Modern museum on Sunday, also at 3 p.m.
Seven years of Filmmor Fest
The International Filmmor Women's Film Festival on Wheels, which celebrates its seventh year in 2009, began in Istanbul on March 9 and will end its run there March 15. Screenings are being held at the French Cultural Center and at the Istanbul Modern. After Istanbul, the festival will travel to Manisa (March 20 to 21), Şanlıurfa (April 5 to 6) and Trabzon (April 11 to 12).
According to the festival press release, the films screened under the special theme of "Body/our body" will stick it to those who seek to turn women's bodies into objects of possession, political arenas, battlefields or punching bags, and to those who seek to restrict women's bodies with prohibitions, laws, shaming, harassment and beatings. "However, some of the sharp-edged films in this section also take aim at the fact that we ourselves at times allow our bodies to be constricted," the statement said. "We ourselves sometimes succumb to the charms of the dieting, beauty, and cosmetic sectors."