Exciting news, dear readers. The Denver Film Society has announced the full lineup for the 7th annual Women+Film festival. The festival is slated to take place from April 4 to April 9 — and all passes and tickets are on sale now. So check out the lineup below and then get moving. If you’re not in the know about Women+Film, here’s the elevator pitch. Spoiler alert: It’s a good one. Women+Film Festival shines a spotlight on stories by and about women with a high profile, female-centric mix of documentaries, feature presentations and short films.
This year’s lineup serves a broad range of tastes and textures. If we had but world enough and time, we would hit up every one of these pictures, but as we’re mere mortals we’ll have to prioritize. One of our most anticipated picks is Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, which is being treated to a pre-film introduction and post-film discussion led by Melinda Barlow, a Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As someone who took as many of her film classes as possible as an undergrad, I can attest that Melinda Barlow is a brilliant badass. Seriously, don’t miss this one.
We’re also smitten with Hungry, a look at the passion of sacrifice of female chefs and restaurateurs; Sami Blood, a buzzy and by all accounts intense Swedish entry we didn’t get a chance to screen at Sundance, and the closing night film, Sticky Notes, a feature that’s sure to smash our hearts into a million pieces, but one that also boasts Rose Leslie, a great favorite of the WWT team.
Details on all of the feature films in the Women+Film lineup are below, feast thine eyes!
Directed by Leah Warshawski
For years, Sonia Warshawski (90) has been an inspirational public speaker at schools and prisons, where her stories of surviving the Holocaust as a teenager have inspired countless people who once felt their own traumas would leave them broken forever. But when Sonia is served an eviction notice for her iconic tailor shop (in a dead mall), she’s confronted with an agonizing decision: either open up a new shop, or retire.
City of Joy
Directed by Madeleine Gavin
Founded in 2011 by Eve Ensler (creator of The Vagina Monologues) and Congolese doctor Dr. Denis Mukwege, The City of Joy is a community for women survivors of violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The film chronicles the institution’s first class of resilient women as they process their trauma and create a revolutionary community. We see survivors transformed into leaders and sorrow turned into hope in this powerful film.
Directed by Peter Bratt
History tells us Cesar Chavez transformed the U.S. labor movement by leading the first farm workers’ union. But missing from this narrative is his equally influential co-founder, Dolores Huerta, who fought tirelessly alongside Chavez for racial and labor justice and became one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century.
Opening Night Film
Equal Means Equal
Directed by Kamala Lopez
Equal Means Equal is an unflinching look at how women are treated in the United States today. By following both real life stories and precedent setting legal cases, director Kamala Lopez discovers how outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues, from workplace matters to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, the healthcare system and the legal system.
Directed by Dorie Barton
Bird, a thoughtful twelve-year-old, is becoming a woman whether she wants to or not. During the worst week of her life, she gets her first period (in front of her entire sixth- grade class), is ditched by her impulsive, free-spirited mom, and learns that you can never really go back to the Valley.
Heather Booth: Changing the World
Directed by Lily Rivlin
Heather Booth is the most influential person you never heard of. The newest film by critically acclaimed filmmaker Lilly Rivlin, Heather Booth: Changing the World is an urgent response to the recent change in administration. At a time when many are wondering how to make their voices heard, when civil and women’s rights are under attack, this empowering documentary is an inspiring look at how social change happens.
Directed by Patty Ivins
While the chef world is a sexy, vibrant field of endless creativity, Hungry reveals the real creative genius is not only with the food, but with the behind-the-scenes resourcefulness and grit it takes for women chefs and restaurateurs to get a restaurant financed, built, running and promoted in what continues to be a male- dominated field.
A League of Their Own
Directed by Penny Marshall
Celebrate the Rockies’ Home Opening Day with the trailblazing comedy of women in sports with the 25th anniversary of A League Of Their Own! Director Penny Marshall’s American classic stars Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Hanks. Detailing the formation of the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League, the film was inducted into the United States National Film Registry in 2012.
Directed by Selma Vilhunen
Varpu, a 12-year-old girl, is frustrated with her life and immature mother. One night, she steals a car, decides to run away and search for her father she has never known. Directed by Academy Award® nominated Selma Vilhunen, Little Wing premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim.
Men: A Love Story
Directed by Mimi Chakarova
After spending nearly a decade as a journalist documenting young women sold as slaves into the sex trade, award winning filmmaker Mimi Chakarova (The Price Of Sex) sets out on a journey across the United States to explore how men feel about women and love. Woven together from stories shared by men of different races, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds, Chakarova weaves a stunningly honest and unapologetic portrayal of masculinity in America.
Directed by Ramona S. Diaz
Taking us into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital, this cinematic experience drops the viewer like an unseen outsider into the hospital’s stream of activity. At first, the subjects are strangers. But, as the film continues, it becomes absorbingly intimate, rendering increasingly familiar.
Directed by Amanda Kernell
Amanda Kernell’s Sámi Blood explores the systematic removal of Indigenous children from their parents. Elle Marja is a teenage Sámi girl in the 1930s who is sent to a boarding school that is intended to raise an Indigenous charges to a level “acceptable” to the rest of Swedish society. Curious and excited, Elle Marja at first excels in her new surroundings. But this very success, coupled with Elle Marja’s intense desire to be accepted by her teachers, and her burgeoning sexuality, soon drives a wedge between her and her fellow students.
Directed by Amanda Sharp
Sticky Notes explores the story of Athena (Rose Leslie), a struggling dancer trying to make it in LA. Athena’s father Jack (Ray Liotta) interrupts her lonely and detached existence when he asks her to move home to Florida to care for him. Big news: he has cancer.
Closing Night Film
Stories We Tell
Directed by Sarah Polley
Presented by Melinda Barlow, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder with a pre-film introduction and post-film discussion, this screening of Sarah Polley’s award-winning Stories We Tell (2012) will explore the relationship between history and memory, reality and fiction and Polley’s career as a filmmaker.
Directed by Jennifer Brea
Jennifer Brea is an active Harvard Ph.D. student about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”
Directed by Nagwa Ibrahim, Salome Mulugeta
Attempting to integrate her mother’s traditions with her own dreams, Ethiopian-born Elenie Tariku’s life is destroyed when a mysterious crime takes the life of her only brother. As Elenie searches for the truth behind his death, her life intertwines with Logan Thompson, in turmoil, and on his own personal quest for understanding.
Women+Film will also play host to six short films, all of which can be seen in a single sitting via the Shorts Program on April 8. Details on all of the short films showing at Women+Film are below:
Directed by Kristen Lauth Shaeffer
349 is a collaborative animation that explores how people are imperceptibly connected.
Directed by Tiffany Shlain
50/50 gives the 10,000 year history of women + power — from setbacks and uprisings, to the bigger context of where we are today.
Clara: Angel of the Rockies
Directed by Patricia McInroy
The story of a historical Colorado icon, Clara Brown.
Directed by Zofia Kowalewska
Barbara and Zdzisław plan their 45th anniversary party.
Pursuit of Beauty
Directed by Kassia Binkowski, AJ Oscarson
Pursuit of Beauty takes an intimate look at how one local artist is harnessing inspiration from Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks.
What Tears Us Apart
Directed by Hu Wei
After a long separation, an encounter. Two families. One child.
All Women+Film Festival screenings and events will take place at the Sie FilmCenter. If you haven’t been there, make double the effort to attend, because it’s rad. You can see the full schedule and buy passes or individual tickets right over here.