here's a festival representing real girls on film
“You’re here, you’re incredible, you’re diverse and you can see yourself in these stories.”
Hollywood has a history of being more concerned with predictable tropes and million dollar franchises than it typically is with portraying the messiness, triumphs and adventures that are part of the experience of being a woman today. But the second edition of Melbourne's Girls on Film Festival (GOFF) combines a freewheeling punk spirit with a commitment to celebrating women's stories - in all their three-dimensional glory.
This year's festival features everything from Iranian vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and Black Panther Woman, a documentary about Marlene Cummings, the leader of the Australian Black Panther Party to cult classics like Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and Thelma and Louise. i-D chatted with managing director Isobel Taylor-Rodgers about her picks for the festival, why women need to see themselves as heroes and the magic of female friendship.
This is the second edition of the Girls on Film Festival. How did the festival come about?
The festival came about when [feminist talkshow] Cherchez La Femme held an event called Feministmas in 2013. It was the brainchild of writer and feminist organiser Karen Pickering, Gus Berger from Gusto Films and comedian Ben McKenzie. They dreamed up this idea of a film festival that really highlighted diverse representations of women in film and that was more about having an awesome time - like a slumber party get-together - rather than a highbrow film festival with panel discussions. This year, we're at Cretan House in Brunswick but there's also a stream that's being hosted at Triple R Radio.
Why do you think it's important for women to see their stories on screen?
At GOFF there are a lot of films that are representative of different kinds of women. We pitch a lot of what we do to a younger demographic and it's incredibly important for young women to be able to see themselves in different roles, doing these incredible things and becoming heroes, which can be very, very uncommon in mainstream film culture. When you start bringing these films together, you start realising how few there are out there and often, it's only one in every 10 films that has a female protagonist or director. We want to bring these films into people's viewpoints and to send the message to young women that "you're here, you're incredible, you're diverse and you can see yourself in these stories."
We also came to the position of wanting to curate around an idea but also not excluding films that we thought were amazing. We came to this very wonderful intersection of starting to curate films to the theme of female friendship and exploring those different dynamics.
This year's festival opens with Desperately Seeking Susan and it also features everything from teen horror The Loved Ones to Black Panther Woman, which is a documentary about the Brisbane arm of the Black Panther movement. What are some of your highlights?
Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is the top of my list . It's so beautifully shot and creepy and wonderful. In The Turn and She's Beautiful When She's Angry are up there for me as well as Bend It Like Beckham which is an amazing film from my childhood.
I'm definitely also looking forward to Thelma and Louise, which is such a great complement to Desperately Seeking Susan and has this really epic ending when it comes to female friendship. The Triple RRR Stream, which includes Black Panther Woman, will be great too. There's something for everyone.
What are your hopes for GOFF this year?
Our hope is that we create an environment that allows people to make friends and do fun things like grabbing a drink, getting some popcorn and having a discussion about things like "what are the implications of Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion?" I'd love it if people made friends and found their girl gang through this festival of female friendship. That would be fantastic.
Girls on Film Festival runs from the 23rd to the 25th of October
Text Neha Kale