So many films have been submitted this year featuring incredibly tough women (superwomen!) as their central figures, that we decided to dedicate an entire section to celebrate them. It wasn’t until after we had created it, that we realised all these films were also made by women. Themselves superwomen, of course.
It is important for us that we emphasise this fact, as sadly we are still living in a world where men and women are not treated equally - workwise, moneywise, etc. Although some people might not think that parity regulations will solve the problem, in countries where these policies have been officially implemented it has been proven that things are progressing at a faster pace, that women gain more confidence and amount the courage to ask for more than what they’re given, while men are getting more accustomed to being part of a world with multiple points of view. When it comes to cinema, we are faced with the same problem. Just compare the film selection in Cannes - no parity policies, very few women filmmakers invited - to the Berlinale selection - clear parity policies, many women filmmakers invited: so we can all do better! What comes as a welcome “surprise” is that this is a goal very easy to achieve, as there is just as much good cinema made by women as there is by men.
Our first superwoman is Djamila, a young Kyrgyz woman, the eponymous protagonist in Chingiz Aitmatov’s 1958 novel which director Aminatou Echard uses as a key to open all doors into the worlds of the Kyrgyz women she encounters - strong women who, when talking about this Kyrgyzstani heroine, are really talking about themselves, about the patriarchal society they are part of, about their dreams, about freedom.
We then move on to two superwomen, Daniela and Manuela, two Italian politicians - fighting, among other things, for equal opportunity for all (not just for women) - whose political lives have been filmed by director Claudia Tosi over the past 10 years and who are now questioning, after being faced with the rise of populism in their country, whether their way of doing politics is still right. All of our other superwomen are questioning woman’s place in society. This takes centre-stage in Naziha Arebi’s post-Libyan revolution film, through the eyes of a an all-female soccer team, as well as in Kenyan director Beryl Magoko’s film, calling into question the practice of female genital mutilation which she herself was subjected to as a little girl. As for Mari Gulbiani, her interest lies with the roots of Muslim radicalism, focusing on the story of two young girls living in a remote Georgian village situated in a region where religion used to be peaceful before many young people converted to Wahhabism and left to fight in Syria. The lives of women have changed radically, which they too now agree with, they talk about it openly and they do not want to diminish their freedom.