Strong female characters in ZagrebDox programme


Don’t miss the personal and shocking tales of brave women – cruel reality of women in Middle East, women’s rights in Italian politics, gender inequality and #metoo mOMENovement.

Nadia Murad, the spokesperson of the Iraqi Yazidi national minority, and war reporters Noor Al Helli and Marie Colvin are joined by Italian politicians and American directors speaking about the inequality of women in the film industry. Reza Farahmand, the winner of the best director award at the Cinema Vérité Documentary Film Festival in Iran, in the film Women with Gunpowder Earring testifies to the power of female will to change the world around them. Noor Al Helli is an Iraqi reporter who, spurred by the cruel daily life of war and terrorism in the Middle East, sets out to the liberated, but still dangerous area in North Iraq, controlled by the Iraqi government. There she meets those whom we rarely think about in this context, the terrorists’ families, women and children surrounded by the smell of gunpowder and sound of explosions. The film is screened in the State of Affairs section.

Competing in international competition is Alexandria Bombach’s film On Her Shoulders about the 23-year-old Nadia Murad, who survived the genocide of the Yazidi minority in North Iraq in 2014, witnessed the death of her loved ones and escaped ISIL’s sexual slavery. Nadia decided to turn her pain into action on the international level. She takes the role of an activist and spokesperson for her people, hoping to stop genocide and bring the ISIL commanders before justice. The film has won many awards, including the best director at Sundance, where it also premiered.

The Biography Dox section includes the British documentary Under the Wire, directed by Chris Martin, a story about the last, fatal mission of the esteemed British reporter and Sunday Times war journalist Marie Colvin, but also a testimony of the atrocities experienced by brave reporters around the world in search of truth. In February 2012 Marie Colvin arrived in Syria in the company of photographer Paul Conroy to report about the destinies of captured civilians in Homs. Marie never returned from the mission, and this documentary, based on Paul Conroy’s namesake book, speaks about her last days.

A title to watch in the regional competition is the triple DOK Leipzig winner I Had a Dream, an important activist and political film in which director Claudia Tosi depicts the fight of two Italian politicians. Manuela and Daniela, the protagonists, have been trying for years to change things in politics and stand up for women’s rights: Manuela in the parliament and Daniela on the local level. However, due to the ‘Berlusconi phenomenon’, the popularity of Italian democrats plummets and with Trump’s rise to power in the States they begin seriously to question the principles and possibilities of democracy, the future of Europe and politics in general.

The State of Affairs section also includes the film Half the Picture by Amy Adrion, about the devastatingly small number of female directors in the men’s world of Hollywood. She recorded a series of interviews with successful Hollywood directors in the year marked by the #timesup and #metoo movement. Ana DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke, Miranda July and many others have opened up about their beginnings in film, successes and difficulties. Other interviewees include experts in gender inequality, who point to the issues of gender discrimination with employment in film industry.

Another film about inequality is the Biography Dox title Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl, directed by Amy Goldstein. The film is an intimate portrayal of the former pop sensation who gave up money and fame to openly speak up about discrimination in the music industry.

Strong female characters are also protagonists of two films about teenagers. Regional competition includes the Hungarian film by Dorottya Zurbó Easy Lessons, which introduces us to 17-year-old Kaifa. She fled her native Somalia to avoid arranged marriage, and now she is trying to integrate into the Hungarian society. Teen Dox includes the film What Walaa Wants by the Canadian director Christy Garland about the rebellious Palestinian teenager who wants to join the army. Walaa is growing up in the biggest refugee camp on the West Coast next to the Gaza Strip and under Israel’s military surveillance.

Documentaries about strong women also come from the fashion world. The British director Lorna Tucker in the film Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist tells an incredible storyabout one of the true fashion icons of our time, Vivienne Westwood. Pietra Brettkelly, a journalist and documentary filmmaker from New Zealand is introducing herself with the film Yellow Is Forbidden, about the Chinese designer Guo Pei and her dream come true – to become part of haute couture, the most exclusive fashion club in the world mostly dominated by European men. These titles are part of the new programme section, Fashion Dox.