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Films Across Borders: Stories of Women

Films Across Borders: Stories of Women, a multi-cultural film series, showcases an eclectic selection of cinematic works by and about women. Now more than ever, the importance of gender-balanced perspectives and parity in representation is clear. Stories of Women gives voice to vital and diverse female viewpoints through dramatic features, documentaries and shorts.

As part of this Film series, the Cultural services of the French Embassy present three critically acclaimed films.

Films Across Borders: Stories of Women is presented by American University, National Gallery of Art, AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, Mexican Cultural Institute, Cultural Services of French Embassy, SPAIN arts & cultureGoethe-Institut WashingtonHouse of Sweden, DC Labor Fest, Immigration Film Fest, Women in Film and Video, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Vital Voices.

Find the complete series schedule here

Cinéast(e)s  by Julie Gayet and Matthieu Busson
2013 France – 73 min
November 13 | 7:00 p.m.

Is cinema gendered? That is the question which drives French actress and directress Julie Gayet and director Matthieu Busson in this documentary. By interviewing 21 female French film directors (Agnès Varda, Céline Sciamma, Pascale Ferran, Mia Hansen-Love…) about the relevance of their gender and its impact on their career Gayet and Busson intend to examine two matters: whether films directed by men and women are really any different and why so few films in general are directed by women. Although France has the highest proportion of female directors worldwide and a society that encourages equal participation in the arts among men and women, that proportion still stands at only about 25%. Cinéast(e)s is a moving testimony of these women who have been writing and telling stories for years as well as an opportunity to get to know the new generation of female French directors.

 

All About Actresses / Le Bal des Actrices by Maïwenn
2009 – France – 100 min
November 27 | 7:00 p.m.

A director (Maïwenn) dives into the strange and confusing world of French actresses. This mockumentary takes a behind-the-scenes camera angle to most genuinely portray actresses’ experiences in interviews, each actress providing a different perspective as to her career outlook. Maïwenn meets them in ordinary places, with a mere hand-held camera, as they reveal their ambitions, frustrations and sometimes their folly. As Maïwenn proclaims to Charlotte Rampling : “We don’t become actresses if we’re not neurotic”. Although the many close-up and POV shots give an impression of authenticity, the movie remains a work of fiction, albeit one inspired by the actual French film industry. Consequently, all actresses play cliché characters more or less based on real actresses: Marina Foïs plays a Botox addict, Romane Bohringer, a has-been depressed and forgotten actress, and Karin Viard, a full-of-herself snob bored by French movies, dreaming of American blockbusters.
However, as per Maiwenn’s vision, the film is both a documentary and a musical supported by short clips of songs and dances; the movie never aims at realism and attempts to depict something more than a mere reflection of reality. This provoking mise en abyme of French actresses resolutely takes the floor to tell new stories of women.

 

Montparnasse Bienvenue / Jeune femme by Léonor Serraille
2017 – France 97 min
December 11 | 7:00 p.m.

Léonor Serraille’s debut feature isn’t the first French film to follow a young woman lost in the city, flirting with madness following a difficult break-up. But it may well be the most surprising and most honest, snapping in and out of a comedic tone to reveal an honest portrait of someone in genuine distress. This non-conformist gem begins as thirtysomething Paula arrives back in Paris after ten years away, recently dumped by her famous photographer boyfriend, and totally adrift. She’s also spontaneous, a chameleon who adapts as the circumstances dedicate. Through a series of random encounters and haphazard situations, Serraille captures the fickleness of a generation faced with a precarious future. And yet one feels uplifted, in no small part due to Laetitia Dosch’s brave, delightfully unhinged performance as Paula.

Léonor Serraille and her female film crew  have received multiple awards, including the Caméra d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, which rewards the best feature film of the year written by a debut director.

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