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Offering female perspective

IREWG to present International Women’s Film Festival

Published: January 20, 2005

Reporter Editor

The Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender will present its ninth annual International Women's Film Festival at 7 p.m. on six successive Thursday evenings—from Jan. 27 through March 3—in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre, 639 Main St., Buffalo.


Dinara Droukarova as Ada (left) and Esther Gorintin as Eka in "Since Otar Left."

The festival this year will feature distinguished, award-winning films depicting women's lives and perspectives from France, Belgium, Georgia, Turkey, Senegal, Hungary, Israel, the Ukraine, Pakistan, India, Iran and the United States, notes Barbara Bono, director of IREWG, informally known as the Gender Institute.

The screenings will feature introductions by and discussions with film experts from both within and outside UB.


The films, Bono says, "consider issues of memory, trauma and re-creation that, in addition to questions of gender, combine individual and generational tensions and religious and cultural formations in the midst of such major, historical events as the partition of Pakistan, the Cold War and the American anti-Vietnam War movement, and the dissolution of the former Soviet Union."

"Two films—the documentary 'Devotion,' a beautiful film about the marriage of secularism and Islam in Istanbul, and 'Divan,' a sprightly autobiography about the search of a 'slipped' Orthodox Jewish daughter to find the couch—the divan—on which the old-world rabbi slept—will be introduced by their directors, Cynthia Madansky and Pearl Gluck," Bono says.


In conjunction with Black History Month and in collaboration with UB's Department of African-American Studies, the Feb. 10 screening of "Moolaadé / Safe Zone," the most recent work of director Ousmane Sembene, will be introduced by Françoise Pfaff of Howard University, who authored "The Cinema of Ousmane Sembene." "Moolaadé / Safe Zone" recently received the award for Best Foreign Language Film from the National Society of Film Critics.

A long-standing community project, the International Women's Film Festival is cosponsored by more than 25 UB departments, other university units and community collaborators. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5.50 for seniors and $5 for students, with a series discount of 30 percent�six films for the price of four. Parking is available in the gated lot on Washington Street behind the theater. The cost of parking is reimbursable at the theater ticket booth.


Kirron Kher and Quratul Ain star in"Silent Waters," a film by Sabiha Sumar.

The schedule for the film festival and a description of the films:

  • Jan. 27: "Since Otar Left / Depuis qu'Otar Est Parti," France/Belgium (filmed in Georgia), 2003, directed by Julie Bertuccelli; introduction by Liana Vardi, UB Department of History. Three Georgian women—strong-willed matriarch Eka, her long-suffering daughter, Marina, and rebellious granddaughter, Ada—all live together in their stately, yet-crumbling, apartment in contemporary Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic. Eka pines for her beloved son, Otar, a physician who is now a construction worker in Paris. When a friend of Otar's calls with tragic news, Marina and Ada must make a seemingly impossible choice: Do they keep Eka from learning the truth?

  • Feb. 3: A Night of Shorts, introduction by Joanna Raczynska, media arts director, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. This screening will feature three short films:

  • "Devotion," U.S. (filmed in Turkey), 2004, introduction by director Cynthia Madansky. A visually lyrical film about the marriage of secularism and Islam in Istanbul.

    "It's Not My Memory of It: Three Recollected Documents," U.S., 2003, directed by Julie Meltzer and David Thorne. A documentary about secrecy, memory and documents. Mobilizing specific historical records as memories that flash up in moments of danger, the tape addresses the expansion and intensification of secrecy practices in the current climate of heightened security in the United States.

    "a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert," U.S., 2004, directed by Coco Fusco. An FBI agent confesses his involvement in the nationwide search for Angela Davis, the black philosopher who was placed on the "10 Most Wanted List" in 1970. An in-depth examination of racialized imagery.

  • Feb. 10: "Moolaadé," Senegal, 2004, directed by Ousmane Sembene; introduction by François Pfaff, professor of French, Howard University. The action takes place in a rural settlement in West Africa. The men make the rules and their wives follow. Many of the men have multiple wives and, according to custom, daughters are circumcised (or "purified"). When a group of six young girls balk at having the procedure performed, four of them flee to Collé for sanctuary. Collé takes them in and declares a moolaadé—a safe zone that will bring a terrible curse upon anyone who breaks it. Thus begins a standoff that escalates into a bloody showdown between tradition and modernization, men and women, and progress and stagnation.

  • Feb. 17: "Divan," U.S. (filmed in Brooklyn, Hungary and Ukraine), 2003, introduction by director Pearl Gluck. As a teenager, Gluck and her mother left their Orthodox Jewish clan in Brooklyn for secular life in Manhattan after her parents' divorce. Many years later, Gluck's father has one wish: that she marry and return to the community. Gluck, however, takes a more creative approach to mend the breach. She travels to Hungary to retrieve a turn-of-the-century family heirloom: a couch upon which esteemed rabbis once slept.

  • Feb. 24: "Silent Waters / Khamosh Pani," Pakistan, 2003, directed by Sabiha Sumar; introduction by Ramya Sreenivasan, UB Department of History. Set in a rural Pakistan village in 1979—at a time when the newly formed military government of General Zia allowed the country to swing towards Islamic fundamentalism—the film follows Ayesha, a progressive thinking Muslim widow who lives with her adored teenage son, Saleem. The two of them get by on the money Ayesha earns as a seamstress and teaching the Koran to children. At loose ends, Saleem easily falls under the sway of the Islamic extremists who come to town to recruit young men for Jihad. It's not the first time the village has been terrorized by religious extremists. For Ayesha, it is as if she is being forced to relive the horror of the 1947 partitioning of India and Pakistan—a horror that, as the film reveals, continues to reverberate today.

  • March 3: "20 Fingers / Beest Angosht," Iran/England (filmed in Iran), 2004, directed by Mania Akbari. "20 Fingers" features seven segments in which a man and a woman talk about intimate things. Among the topics of discussion are the need for an official virginity check on women before marriage, "disciplinary forces" who arrest a couple suspected of adultery, abortion and lesbianism. The couple reflects on the roots of dependencies, limitations, power struggles and conflicts that are the familiar stuff of life and love in Iran.

For more information on the film festival, go to http://www. or call IREWG at 829-3451.