The Maestro’s graduation speech at the 19th Festival

“In Patrick McGinley’s “Always on Your Side”, a mother hands her daughter a copy of Kate Millet’s 1969 book “Sexual Politics”

In this book Millett argues that authors view and discuss sex in a patriarchal and sexist way.

In Colin Jones’ “Move”, the tension between the sexes is established, as we are introduced to a female ballerina in contrast with a pair of male boxers. This tension will only be resolved in the final film: Biting Down (Kate Cornish), where a young female heroine challenges the traditional role of “femme fatale” – traditionally the means by which a male protagonist is diverted from the object of his quest – but in Cornish’s hands becomes a true force in her own right.

Incidentally Cornish penned “The Gesture”, another film in which we see the clear supremacy of a female killer over a string of helpless male neighbours.

Jaeson wrestles with it in his delightful film,” Adam and Eve Get Kicked out of the Garden of Eden”, in which he seeks to navigate the impasse through the possibility of a threesome…

Martina Joison’s “Mabel” rides into town with a false image of a man, and leaves with a flesh and blood variety, in a whirlwind of energy that breaks apart the unhealthy relationship between the two men in the film.

Laura Waite’s “Your World” completely parodies the male dominating presence in early educational films, and by reversing gender roles, provokes all sorts of questions about gender stereotypes.

Carolina’s “Nowhere” works metaphorically to establish a kind of limbo space, through which the male and female lovers must traverse in order to find one another again, a representation of the constant kind of negotiation that needs to happen within every successful relationship between the sexes.

In Yuling’s film, “The Silent Flow”, the female character, while initially jealous and disempowered, is seemingly empowered by her connection with the sea, and ends the film vindicated, turning away the apple that the man is offering her. 

Unsurprisingly the image of the apple recurs, the symbol of tension between the sexes.

The figure of the dominant woman manifests itself in the dynamic between the young girl and boy in Andy’s “Walk With Me”, in whose eyes the boy must prove himself.

In “Memories of Jack”, a strong, determined young girl with lead her grandfather towards the harsh reality that her father and his son is now dead. 

In Julian’s “Snake” the women, while absent from the film, still assert a powerful presence upon the father and son, simultaneously disrupting the relationship and then bringing them back together.

Pete Raftos deftly navigates the complexity of this tension of the sexes in “Maya and the Boy”, where a babysitter is not entirely aware of the full power her sexuality has over the young boy she is minding.

It is young girls in Sneha’s video clip, “Bravado”, that usurp the traditional male role of hooliganism.

Even the main subject of Bianca’s documentary, “Metaverse”, breaks open the stereotype, as she embraces the traditional domain of young men: computer games.

Matthew Jelly’s hero in “Stuck” is unable to forgive himself for his aggressive behaviour towards his wife and daughter, and is punished by his daughter for it.

Sandra Fonseca’s Sabina in “Shadow” is battling her own demons in the way she defines herself through the opposite sex, but she too is able to find her way through, taking the snake by the tail.

The festival ends with a powerful female presence in all three films of “Si”, “Solitude” and “Biting Down”, as the powerful presence of a mother, a defiant wife, and ruthless killer, respectively. 

In Jungian terms, our behaviour and societal structures are founded upon archetypal patterns inherent in all storytelling. It follows that if we can change or challenge the archetypal patterns, we can also change ourselves, and the world we live in.

Based upon the slate of films presented by you at our 19th SFS Festival I am very optimistic about the way in which conventional patriarchal storytelling will be challenged by you as the future generation of filmmakers, both as women and men. I think this ultimately extends the framework in which we see ourselves reflected.”

Click here to read the 19th SFS Festival wrap-up

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