(May 25, 2017 – Toronto, ON) The Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF) celebrates its 15th season this year and birthday wishes and congratulations have already started. It was voted one of the World’s Top Fifty Film Festivals by MovieMaker magazine for the fifth consecutive year this year and a large part of that rests squarely with festival founder and Executive Director Leslie Ann Coles.
“We are delighted to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of FeFF,” Coles said. “This year, we received a record number of narrative features directed by women, and we are delighted to present 15 of them, along with five feature documentaries and 53 short live-action, documentary, experimental, and animated films from around the world.”
FeFF opens on June 20 and kicks off with day-time screenings under the headings of Irish Women’s Stories, a collection of shorts from Ireland; International Shorts (LGTBQ2); and feature the Canadian Documentary Tomorrow’s Power, directed by Amy Miller.
The opening night feature is Hunting Pignut, directed by Martine Blue. It’s an award-winning coming-of-age story about Bernice, a 15-year-old misfit who runs away from her rural Newfoundland community in search of Pignut, a charismatic but tormented and violent gutter punk, after he steals her father’s ashes right out of the urn. Featuring an astounding breakout performance by “star to watch” Taylor Hickson (pictured) and based on events from the life of writer/director/editor Martine Blue; also starring Joel Thomas Hynes, Amelia Manuel, Jamie Silken Merrigan, Bridget Wareham, and Mary Walsh.
This year the festival will screen films from Canada and the United States, Ireland, France, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Lebanon, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong, China, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Brazil, India, Russia, Iceland, South Africa, Australia, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Japan, Iran, and Germany.
In addition to the festival’s film schedule, there are Industry Panels, Script Development, and Best in the Biz Tributes including the 2017 Honorary Maverick Award for Valerie Creighton, President and CEO Canadian Media Fund, and the 2017 Honorary Director, Ann Marie Fleming. Fleming also receives a Best in the Biz Tribute, a signature series at FeFF that features an intimate conversation with our honorary guest on Saturday, June 24, 4PM–5:30PM, at The Great Hall, Beach United Church, 140 Wineva Avenue. The screening of Fleming’s film Window Horses and The French Guy will take place at the Fox Theatre in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto, where the festival will make its home from June 20 to the 25th.
The Female Eye Film Festival also boasts other industry programs involving representatives from the local film and television industry, including the CMF, OMDC, Telefilm Canada, Bell Media, CBC, the Directors Guild of Canada, the Writers Guild of Canada, ACTRA, as well as distributors and CEOs and development executives of production companies who participate in panels, workshops, and pitch sessions from Wednesday, June 21 to Sunday, June 25. Supported by the Ontario Media Development Corp (OMDC), Industry Initiatives Program, and Telefilm Canada, Promotions Program.
The Female Eye Industry Program, Making It Happen in 2017, features Canadian Features First Series; Script Development (Script Readings & Good To Go); Industry Panel Discussions (Meet the Funders; Meet the Guilds; Agencies and Organizations; Meet the Distributors; Marketing Workshop; Emerging Technologies; Filmmakers Panel, and the eighth-edition Directors Brunch and Round-Table Discussions. Supported by the Ontario Media Development Corp (OMDC), Industry Initiatives Program, and Telefilm Canada, Promotions Program.
Some film highlights outside of the actual festival schedule include a special screening of FeFF Director Leslie-Ann Coles’ own film Melody Makers, an award-winning documentary that captures the rise of music journalism in the early 1960s. FeFF began with Coles’ multiple-award-winning short In the Refrigerator (2001). Also, Werewolf, directed by Ashley McKenzie. Werewolf premiered at TIFF and is a feature selection at the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival.
Other notable screenings include:
Multiple-award-winning film The Babushkas of Chernobyl, directed by Holly Morris, making its Canadian debut. Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, some 100 women cling fiercely to their ancestral homeland inside the radioactive “Exclusion Zone.” While most of their neighbours have long since fled and their husbands have gradually died off, this stubborn sisterhood is hanging on – even, oddly, thriving – while trying to cultivate an existence on toxic earth.
Little Stones, directed by Sophia Kruz (Documentary, USA). From a graffiti artist speaking out against domestic violence in the favelas of Brazil to a dancer rehabilitating sex-trafficking survivors in India, Little Stones follows four women from around the world who use art to empower women and girls. Produced over 18 months in Senegal, Kenya, Brazil, Germany, India, and the US by Sophia Kruz, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, with cinematographer Meena Singh (Hollidaysburg) and music by Sundance Composers Lab alumni Amritha Vaz.
What If It Works?, directed by Romi Trower (2016, Australia). An irrepressibly chirpy tech nerd, Adrian (Luke Ford), who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder falls for Grace, a beautiful street artist who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). It’s a love story that seems impossible. But what if it works?
Dark Circus, directed by Julia Ostertag (2017, Germany). Struggling with her aimless existence, a young woman is taken to a parallel universe full of bizarre characters and occult rituals.
Devil’s Bride, directed by Saara Cantell (2016, Finland). The year is 1666 and a lethal witch-hunt is about to begin. A true story of passion and betrayal set against the growing hysteria of the most widespread witch-hunt in Scandinavian history.
FeFF Special Programs:
The Female Eye Photo Exhibit/Reception and Short Avante Garde Film Program, Thursday, June 22, 6:30PM–9PM, The Great Hall, Beach United Church, 140 Wineva Avenue.
3rd Annual LIVE PITCH, sponsored by Cinespace and TriBro Studios. Teams pitch in front of a live audience and industry jury. Winner takes home a $2,500 cash prize.
The Closing Gala on June 25 is the world-premiere screening of Can Hitler Happen Here?, directed by Saskia Rifkin. In the world of cinema, where there are few leading roles for women over 50 (let alone 60), Can Hitler Happen Here? is notable simply for featuring a heroine in her 70s battling meddling neighbours, ambitious social workers, and real-estate vultures as they conspire to torment an eccentric old lady. But it’s not just her age that sets Miriam (Laura Esterman) apart in this stunning role. Far from being an elderly female archetype, Miriam offers a daring character study of a vibrant, stubborn, individualistic woman intent on holding on to her home and iconoclastic lifestyle. The unique spirit of the movie’s central protagonist comes directly from the screenwriter, Catherine May Levin, another powerful and rebellious woman in her 70s.
Unless otherwise noted, all festival films will screen at The Fox Theatre, 2236 Queen Street East. Tickets are just $10.00 per film. All Industry Programs, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the Beach United Church, 140 Wineva Avenue.
The full Female Eye festival lineup can be seen on the festival’s website.