The 33rd International Créteil Films de Femmes Festival

By Moira Sullivan
The 33rd International Créteil Films de Femmes Festival in Paris continues to produce one of the highest quality panoramas in the world on the images of women in cinema.
Cecilia Mangini
This year, the focus of the festival is on the work of women who have explored the theme of fascism in Europe. The films of Italian director Cecilia Mangini were shown including short films set to the texts of the late filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, such as Ignoti Alla Citta, from 1958, (Unknown to the city) where excerpts from Pasolini’s controversial novel Ragazzi di vita (Hustlers) shocked Italians in 1955 with his depiction of the decadence of youth, and families in the suburbs of Rome. Another film entitled Stendali (1960) is a funeral song in Griko, the dialect of those of Greek origin in southern Italy. 
Mangini was co director with Lino Del Fra and Lino Miccichè in the brilliant 1962 documentary All’Armi Saim Fascista (To arms, we are fascists) assembles films from the archives of the 20th century through 1960 on the origins of fascism up to the anti fascist strikes of July 1960 in Genoa, Rome, Reggio Emilia, Palermo and Catania.  The film was blocked by censors for one year and presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival that year but it was not until the 1970’s that the film was widely shown in Italy.  Mangini’s film takes up the rise of Benito Mussolini, his union with Hitler and the emergence of Franco and Stalin. 

Present at the screening was the Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros, director of April Captains made in Portugal in 2001. It is a film about the military coup in Portugal in 1974 and the Portuguese revolution. Mangini’s film was packed with the history of fascism in Europe but when asked why Portugal was not a part of the film, it was Maria de Medeiros who explained that there were different historical factors to the political history in Portugal that would not have fit with Mangini’s film.  Cecilia Mangini who is now 84 was present for all the screenings of her work at Creteil this week. 

Carmen Maura
The Spanish actress Carmen Maura who has made films for directors such as Carlos Saura and Pedro Almodóvar was the guest of honor this year at Créteil.  The film Ay Carmela starring Maura was screened about a group of artists, a married couple Paulino (Andrés Pajares) and Carmela, played by Carmen Maura and the young mute Gustavete Gabino Diego. They find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time when they stumble on to soldiers loyal to Franco on the road. In order to save themselves they agree to put on a Pro Franco cabaret, something that Carmela has an increasingly hard timed doing. 
Carmen Maura told the audience that she never thought she could sing or dance very well even though it was clear that she is a first class performer endeared to the public. Ay Carmela was made in 1990 and although Pedro Almodóvar is credited with renewing Spanish cinema after Franco, Carlos Saura was more direct about pointing out the atrocities of the Spanish dictator and his supporters.
We are just on the 4th day of this festival. Other highlights include the screening of a film on Greece by Alida Dimitriou -  Birds in the Mire from 2008. It is a documentary about women who joined the Greek resistance during WWII. Athens had the strongest anti war resistance in Europe at the time. Unfortunately after the war these women were exiled or put in prison when Britain demanded that the Greek resistance movements be disbanded enlisted secret agents from the war for help. 
Next week, more from the Créteil festival.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Paris.

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 03/29/11
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