22:e Cineffable Festival International du Film Lesbien et Féministe de Paris

 By Moira Sullivan

In a special limited edition the 22:e Cineffable Festival International du Film Lesbien et Féministe de Paris took place on Toussaint, the All Saints Day holiday. Due to repairs at the Trianon Theatre at Montmartre, which has been the home of the festival for several years, the volunteer staff quickly found a suitable location at Espace Reuilly. Though the festival was shortened by two days, Cineffable sold 3000 tickets to the screenings as many tickets as it does at Trianon proving that this festival has a dedicated following no matter what.
Carole Roussopoulos
In fact the Cineffable festival may well be the only one of its kind in the world where a political lesbian public is able to see the best in lesbian films from around the world. It is also rare to have a feminist venue without compromise. Some of the highlights of the festival this year included an homage to the late Swiss documentary filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos who began making video film’s in the 70s using the camera as a pen to record feminist events.  Between 1969 and 2009 she made over 100 documentaries. 
Flowers for Simone de Beauvoir
One of her latest films made in
2007 was Flowers for Simone de Beauvoir a commentary on the funeral of the French feminist, which was attended by prominent feminists such as Ti Grace Atkinson, Kate Millet, and Christine Delphy. The films includes footage of Simone de Beauvoir who admits that she left philosophy to her partner Jean Paul Sartre but that her thoughts were clear in her writing. In rare footage where de Beauvoir explains this in English the Francophile audience laughed because her pronunciation of English had the same cadence as French. 
Sin By Silence

Several documentaries went home such as Sin by Silence by Olivia Klaus about the battered women’s syndrome of women who are incarcerated for killing their abusive husbands.
Edie and Thea
And the documentary Edie and Thea by Susan Muska et Greta Olafsdóttir about a lesbian couple of 40 years who remained in love through the years and finally married in Canada two years before Thea Died.
For a festival of such high quality it is not easy to project a lesbian feature film since the cornball stories often do not go home. Such was the case of Elena Undone by Nicole Conne about a lesbian who falls in love with a heterosexual woman married with children. The two long haired beauties Peyton (Tracie Dinwiddie) and Elena (Necar Zadegan)represent the stereo typical lesbian in the media, and the plot line tries to show that it’s magic that two people find each other and its just a matter of time till the right person shows up.

Viola di Mare
Another film by Donatella Maiorca from Italy Viola di Mare  or The Sea Purple is based on a true story. It concerns a young woman named Angela Valeria Solarino who wants to marry her childhood sweetheart Sara Isabella Ragonese in 19th century Italy, however her father forbids it. Later he allows it if Angela changes her attire and poses as Angelo, a man.
XXX sense of lightness
More realistic films about lesbian lives include the short films from around the world, such as XXX sense of Lightness by Chozie Li about two lesbians, Spring and Bird from Taipei, who tragically are separated when one of them is seduced by a man when she is only 20, becomes pregnant and later dies of a self  induced abortion that goes wrong.
Or Alligator by Dana Goldberg a Jewish lesbian in Tel Aviv whose mother has her watched and who desperately tries to find a girlfriend.
It is clear that without feminism that lesbian films go flat, and those films where women are active politically and work for LGBT rights offer a more authentic picture of lesbian life. It may be love stories and the myths about them that help to get feature films funding but for the Cineffable public , a film’s popularity has to do with a clear story with understandable signification and an honest attempt to tell the realities of lesbians around the world.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan PARIS

© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 11/03/10
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