Eva Husson's "Girls of the Sun"debuts in Cannes competition

Girls of the Sun directed and written by French filmmaker Eva Husson was one of three films selected for the official competition at Cannes which debuted at the festival. (Movie Magazine International has reviewed the other two films directed and written by women Alice Rohrwacher Happy as Lazzaro (Italy) which won best screenplay shared with exiled Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s Three Faces) and Jury Prize winner Capernaum by Nadine Labaki (Lebanon).

These are three films by female auteurs and when they make new films they are assured to be selected again to the competition.

Girls of the Sun tells the story of female soldiers called the "Girls of the Sun battalion". The film setting is August 2014 in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq, which was Yazidi territory with 300, 000 inhabitants. ISIS attacks it because its position is strategic in a genocidal ambush that affects the Yazidi’s who do not make it out to safety. Young boys are put into Jihadist schools. 7,000 women and children are driven to Tal Afar, Mosul or Raqqa in Iraq where they are sexually assaulted, tortured, sold as slaves or forced to marry.
The narrative is not linear and involves retracing what made the women soldiers. They do not enlist as men do, they are asked to fight against ISIS by the Syrian army, and Kurdish fighters in Iraq. They fight for 15 months and the fate of over 2000 women who were captured remains unknown today.

Their villages have been plundered, their loved ones executed, their relatives raped, their children abducted. These scenes are not exploited by the director as in most war films, but the reality of the women is made known. They know that if they kill a male hostile he will not go to heaven and they are very skilled as fighters. Lead actress Golshifteh Farahani as the commandant Bahar is shown in numerous scenes as uncompromising and fierce, yet her family has been captured and her sister assaulted. A French female journalist Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot) enlists to cover the story from the perspective of Bahar.

It is evident that the innovative narrative construction of this historic struggle contributed to its selection at Cannes. Yet Eva Husson is no newcomer to filmmaking. She is one of a total of 82 women who were represented in a demonstration this year about the exclusion of female filmmakers when over 1600 men have been selected in 71 years. Husson argues that 95% of cinema is told from a male perspective. The making of this film and the innovative storytelling and perspectives of the battalion soldiers is evidence that this percentage is starting to fade.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/23/18
Movie Magazine International