13 Triple F-Rated films at this year's Raindance Film Festival

Love films? Want to support women in film? Then you need to know about the F-Rating system...


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Triple F rated film Dykes, Camera, Action!

 

Designed to, "support and promote women and redress the imbalance in the film industry", the F-Rating is awarded to films which are: 1. directed by a woman, and/or 2. written by a woman.

 

If the film also features "significant women on screen in their own right," then the film will be TRIPLE F-Rated (which just sounds so badass).

 

Ahead of this year's Raindance Film Festival, we've compiled a list of the fest's top F-Rated films. This year, there are 62 F-Rated films in total, out of which 27 are feature films, and out of those 13 are triple F-Rated, and these are what you'll find below.

 

Get your notepads out, people. There's plenty to see here...

 

A Crimson Star

Up-and-coming debut director Aya Igashi conveys the bond between two lonely girls in a time of abuse and depression. A Crimson Star excels in its melancholic long shots and pained minimalist dialogue, seeping in unspoken hurt. Unravelling layer by layer the sad plights of its protagonists, it's a breath-taking addition to Japan’s avant-garde film scene. 

 

Accommodations

Life is full of sacrifices, and few are as aware as Jack and Edie Somner. Accommodations is an endearing journey about navigating both yourself and other people, determining what value you can place on what's around you, and choosing what you can sacrifice and what must remain. Filled with hilarious scenarios and extravagant characters all descending upon and overwhelming the couple. Yet, nestled between all this comedic fun is a genuinely sweet and earnest tale of self-discovery. 

 

Ana By Day

Ana is smart and responsible, about to finish a PhD in Law, and engaged to be married. That is until the day her doppelgänger waltzes into her life and robs her identity. Suddenly a nobody, Ana takes advantage of her sudden liberation to do whatever she had never dared do before. Running away to another city, she becomes Nina, a music hall dancer. She changes her look and takes up a lover.

 

Prowling the world by night, she leaves her problems behind to the day. The film’s absolute highlight is the acting of Ingrid Garcia Jonsson, believably transforming from the pristine Ana, plucking up the courage to shed her skin, to the rebellious but tormented Nina. This is complemented by the film’s cinematographic focus on red — from Anna’s hair, to the scenery — to show how her route to becoming a new woman is both passionate and dangerous.

 

As Anna immerses herself in cheap glamour, she gradually sees through the facade of lies, embracing loneliness and having an identity crisis. Can she go back to who she was? Can she keep on running from herself forever? Visually stunning and an interrogating film about being oneself, Ana By Day is one to watch. 

 

Bad Poetry Tokyo

Jun is a hostess in a Tokyo nightclub, saving dirty money to one day move to Los Angeles to become an actress. Having suffered abuse from her clients and a violent betrayal from her lover, she makes a return to her quiet hometown to escape the adrenaline of Tokyo. Finally some respite is found in old friends, and a family she has not spoken to in five years. But home is full of unpleasant truths and discomfort, and how long can she stay away from the darkness she left behind in the city?

 

The debut feature film from Indian writer and director Anshul Chauhan is a poignant study into the emotional trauma of Jun, displaying incredible skill and sensitivity. Every aspect of the cinematography is carefully crafted to increase the psychological pressure — with tight framing, dramatic lighting, and even a 4:3 aspect ratio presenting a prison of existence.

 

Shuna Iijima (Jun) earned Best Actress for her heart-wrenching performance at Osaka Asian Film Festival. Her violent outbursts and deafening silences are both unforgivingly hard to watch, with anguish never far away from bubbling over into the extreme. A flawless feature debut to join the beloved canon of Japanese, indie cinema. 

 

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Dykes, Camera, Action! 

This documentary presents the history of lesbian cinema from the 80s, 90s, and beyond, as told by the women who were there, interviewing pioneering filmmakers such as Barbara Hammer, Janet Baus, and Cheryl Dunye, to get to the bottom of what is so important and meaningful about queer films made for queer women, by queer women.

 

DCA! introduces and explores different facets of lesbian cinema, from arthouse to mainstream, discussing the importance of films such as But I'm A Cheerleader… and High Art to the representation of queer women onscreen. DCA! is essentially the sapphic The Celluloid Closet, and works perfectly as an introduction, as well as an examination, of American, queer cinema through the female lens. 

 

Family

You cannot choose your family, you can’t select who you live with. Lily Brooke knows this all too well. Her father is distant and disappointed. Her mother is aloof and an addict. Her sister is sensitive and sadistic. Her brother is inhumane and incestuous. Lily has lacked control her entire life, and so one late evening finds herself confessing to her therapist (or rather, her therapist’s irritated daughter while her mother is out).

 

Lily may not have had control over her own life, but she has recently taken control over the lives of others. She is confessing how she killed her entire family. An intriguing film, Family handles a pitch-black topic with the right levels of macabre style and sly humour. Veronica Kader stars as Lily, while also directing and writing the film, producing an utterly unique vision full of twists and brimming with confidence.

 

A fascinating and ambitious work, Family reflects upon themes of choice and identity, of whether people are defined by those around them, or if they tell their own story. While (hopefully) nobody has a family quite like this, the captivating performances and engaging delivery make it a grim funhouse mirror for everyone’s experiences...

 

Gwendolyn

Stoic, graceful, and full of razor sharp wit – words to describe both Gwendolyn, the 65-year-old weightlifting champion, and Gwendolyn, the eponymous film by Ruth Kaaserer. We follow the multiple world record-holder as she trains for the chance to break yet another European record, and prove that her ongoing battle with cancer has barely slowed her stride.

 

Winner of Viennale’s Best Feature, Gwendolyn is a timeless example of observational documentary film at its finest. Its minimalist approach emphasises the unconventional and deeply caring relationships between Gwendolyn, her trainer, and several of her closest friends. Her wins and her struggles are both treated in a matter-of-fact tone that allows the protagonist’s charm to shine through.

 

Entirely unfettered by sentimentalism, Gwendolyn speaks to the fighter and the poet in all of us. 

 

In The Name of Your Daughter

December in northern Tanzania is “cutting season” — the school holiday period during which young girls aged between eight and 15 (or even younger) are submitted to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), in the name of tradition, curbing promiscuity, and securing a better bridal dowry. Torn between pressures from families and the wider community, and their own desire not to be “cut”, over 200 girls find their way to the safe house, run by the compassionate and commanding Rhobi.

 

Some make a dangerous journey on foot; others are protected by teachers and the Women’s Division of the local police. Director Giselle Portenier follows the stories of these young girls, allowing them to speak of their own experiences. Family circumstances are revealed, with some girls being vocal and resistant, others finding it difficult to open up about this traumatic and personal issue.

 

The challenge of fighting deep-seated tradition is constant, despite attempts by safe house staff, police, teachers, and the girls themselves, to educate about the dangers of FGM. Revealing and emotional, this documentary places the girls at the centre of their story, while highlighting their close family bonds and the efforts of others to end a practice that leaves girls mutilated or worse.

 

M

Lila, an introverted student preparing for her baccalauréat, meets Mo, a brash, arrogant young man who races cars illegally. Lila's rising proficiency as a writer begins to highlight Mo's anxiety over the fact that he is illiterate. Complicating matters further is Lila's speech impediment, which leads her to rely mainly on written communication.

 

Their budding relationship finds them becoming the mutual supports that have so far been absent from their lives. But as Mo refuses to admit to his illiteracy, it creates tension in their relationship which threaten to stretch it to its breaking point. Familiar to arthouse audiences through her acting work for directors such as Alain Resnais and Abdellatif Kechiche, Sara Forestier makes her feature directorial debut in M.

 

Writing as well as directing, Forestier uses the raw material of autobiography and transforms it into a universal story about trust and self-confidence. Featuring strong lead performances from Forestier as Lila, Redouanne Harjane as Mo, and the legendary Jean-Pierre Léaud as Lila's father, M is a powerful yet sensitive film about characters who gradually discover the power in accepting their vulnerabilities. 

 

Mi Vida Loca

Mousie (Seidy Lopez) and Sad Girl (Angel Aviles) are two Mexican-American gang members in Echo Park, LA, who have been best friends since childhood. Their loyalty to the gang and one another is put to the test when Sad Girl betrays Mousie, by sleeping with her boyfriend. Drugs, murder, and tragedy seek to further re-define the state of their friendship.

 

Allison Anders’s third feature continued her interest in America's southern borderlands and the Mexican-American experience, while moving into the heart of LA gangland culture. Featuring the likes of Salma Hayek and Danny Trejo in small roles, Anders otherwise used an assortment of non-actors from the Echo Park area.

 

Critically-acclaimed at the time of its release, the film failed to find a wide audience, but with its focus upon the urban experience of young Mexican-American women it is ripe for rediscovery in these times of Trumpian chauvinism. 

 

Princesita

Twelve-year-old Tamara has been raised in a cult community in southern Chile, and is thought by cult leader Miguel to be the golden child — perhaps even his successor. Tamara's elevated status lends her privileges, and she becomes the first child allowed to undertake education in the outside world.

 

Tamara's growing awareness of life outside the cult and the onset of puberty bring her childhood to a close as she realises that her role is not to be the Chosen One, but rather to bear the Chosen One — a sacred child sired by Miguel. Produced by Pablo Larrain and having already made waves at TIFF and San Sebastian, Marialy Rivas's sophomore feature is a dazzling visual feast.

 

With cinematography and colouring anticipating the mood of every scene, Tamara's sun-drenched happiness becomes literally darker as the narrative does. A voiceover narration by Tamara allows us to understand precisely how she is feeling. The film's tense and sinister tale was written by Rivas in part to show the extremes to which men still believe they have ownership over women's bodies.

 

Tower. A Bright Day

In a small rural community, Kaja returns to her family after a six-year absence, during which time her daughter Nina has been raised by her sister, Mula. Mula's paranoia about losing Nina leads her to impose strict rules preventing Kaja from forming a relationship with her. Amidst this and other family dramas leading up to Nina's first communion, a series of mysterious occurrences also begin to take place - some seemingly for the better; others more frightening.

 

Screened in the Berlinale Forum, Jagoda Szelc's unsettling feature debut is a seamless blend of mystical drama and psychological haunted house story. Subtle and foreboding, its cleverly manipulative use of cinematography and sound design contributes to the sense of something inhuman lying beneath the surface of a seemingly idyllic setting.

 

As in Pasolini's Theorem or Dumont's Hors Satan, Kaja fills the role of a mysterious interloper around whom strange things begin to happen — things which begin seeping into the entire community, and even the surrounding landscape. Straddling genres and stylistic influences, Szelc has already drawn comparisons with filmmakers as diverse as Yorgos Lanthimos and Jennifer Kent — and all of it before she's completed her degree at ŁódΕΊ Film School.

 

When Margaux Meets Margaux

A young woman called Margaux divides her days between shoplifting and two uninteresting boyfriends, lives with her best friend, Esther, and plans a short trip to visit her parents in Lyon. Meanwhile, an older woman called Margaux returns from her home in Lyon to attend the funeral of her old flatmate, Esther, with whom she long ago lost touch.

 

After the two Margauxes meet at a house party, they begin to believe they are the same person at different ages. And while young Margaux realises she can ask older Margaux about the outcomes of her one-night stands, the older Margaux becomes convinced that she could potentially prevent young Margaux from making the same bad decisions that resulted in her lonely and unsatisfying middle-age life.

 

Like Groundhog Day, Sophie Fillières's film refuses to let the logic behind the timeslip get in the way of allowing its ramifications to play out to their full effect. Buoyed by accomplished lead performances from Sandrine Kiberlain and Agathe Bonitzer ​— who, despite bearing no resemblance to each other, are thoroughly convincing as the same woman — the result is a wry and often witty drama about whether some mistakes are in fact better off making...

 

Raindance Film Festival takes place in London from the 26 September - 7 October 2018. For more head to raindance.org.

 

 

Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.

 

divadigital.co.uk // divadirect.co.uk // divasub.co.uk

 

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