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Astra Film Festival

Astra Film Festival 2006

Women - Leading Characters in Documentary Films

The panel: "Women: Leading Caharacters in Documentary Films" - discusses seventeen films, which come up with different aspects of womanhood in a certain society: 1. Women's place in different social contexts: Sisters in Law, Caravan, Singing Pictures, Holy Men and Fools, We are Girls, But ...; 2. Women crossing their biological gender: Rodica Is a Good Boy, Shinjuku Boys; 3. Women and marriage: The Good Wife of Tokyo, Divorce in Iranian Style, Just Married, Sentenced to Marriage, Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, The Internet Bride, Red Poppies, Fat Fiancees, Rivers of Sand, The Angelmakers.

A special section presents five films by Kim Longinotto, internationally aclaimed and renowned for dealing with women issues by creating an extraordinary human portraits and tackling controversial topics with sensitivity and compassion.

Documentary films may be an unlimited genre, but the subjects fall into a limited number of categories. Documentary films are likely to give voice to people in distress: minority groups of all kinds - ethnic, sexual, religious, cultural etc. People who walk against the mainstream, and who oppose the establishment often become characters in documentary films. In many circumstances, women can be regarded as a group in distress. But even if they do not find themselves in extreme situations, the competition between women and men takes place in a men's world that still dictates the rules of the game. Director Kim Longinotto points out in an interview that people always notice that she films women, but they never realize that most films are only about men.

AFF 2006's selection contradicts her to a certain extend, revealing a great interest from the part of documentary filmmakers - both women and men - in women's issues.

Their films are an excellent starting point for what we hope to be a lively and interesting panel discussion. In 'Just Married' we see an Israeli bride performing the dance of the bride by herself, because the groom, a Palestinian, was not allowed to cross the secured area to attend his own wedding. Other Israeli wived desperately try to put a legal end to a failed marriage in ' Senteced to Marriage'. In Western Uganda, girls are stuffed to make fat beautiful brides, according to tradition, while in Kyrgyzstan a zoung woman can be abducted from the street by a man she has never seen before, and forced to marry him. Women artists in rural India are beautiful portrazed in 'Singing Pictures'. Women sometimes take men's jobs, as in 'Caravane', the story of a women caravan crossing the Sahara desert. The Roma women in 'Red Poppies' live in extreme poverty and have little if no idea about contraceptive methods. To be a woman is not an easy job. Still, the main character in 'Rodica is a Good Boy' is willing to undertake sex change surgery to become one. The habitué od ASTRA FILM FEST will definitely enjoy meeting again Kim Longinotto's films. The special programme on women issues includes five titles of her filmography..