Olympic Moves at 46th Créteil International Women's Film Festival

By Moira Jean Sullivan

OLYMPIC Moves was the slogan of the 46th Créteil International Women's Film Festival preceding the 2024 Olympics in Paris in July. The opening film was Hard, Fast and Beautiful by Ida Lupino (1951) about a young tennis player caught between the plans for her career made by her mother and coach and a young man she's met who loves tennis. Another sport film, the French documentary on the Olympique Lyonnais women's team, Les joueuses (The Squad 2020) is about one of the best football teams in the world , written and directed by Stéphanie Gillard. The French director also made The Ride (2011) about the 300-mile journey by horseback by Lakota Sioux through the South Dakota Badlands. Both films were co- produced by the Rouge International team - Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev.

Ironically, I am back from the Créteil film festival that connects to the Paris metro system. Its a long hike from Opéra to Créteil and the metro tunnels, ramps and stairways have limited accessibity for people with disabilities. And it is one reason why the festival is not well attended by veterans. There is a bus shuttle to the Bastille or Châtelet metro stations but it is the last bus from the evening films of the festival. This year due to another irony getting from one end of Paris to the other within the Périphérique and out to the festival was challenging because of a sports injury.

Créteil is its own city with a mayor and government and a new huge modern shopping center "Créteil Soleil" with a slew of restaurants - most of them international franchises. I was able to follow my itinerary that I usually do since the 1990's except I didn't visit the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral that is still being renovated since the fire in 2019. It is enshrined by scaffolds of wire looking a little like someone with braces on their teeth, a maudlin site seen through the window of my ride.

One of the guests of honor this year was French actress Léa Drucker. Some of her best work was screened: Été Dernier (Last Summer) and the Sous Contrôle (Under Control) series. On March 16 Léa held a Master class hosted by Charlotte Garson, deputy editor-in-chief of Cahiers du cinéma. Later that evening Last Summer directed by Catherine Breillat was screened who was in attendance. Two of Us (2019) by Italian director Filippo Meneghetti with Barbara Sukowa as Nina Dorn and Léa Drucker as Anne concerns two retired women who have kept their relationship and love secret for years. Just Before Losing Everything by Xavier Legrand (2013)also with Drucker is about a woman who takes her two children and escapes from an abusive husband.

A second special guest who also gave a Master class was German director Monika Treut who is known for her subversive LGBTQ cinema produced through her company Hyena Films -- 10 narrative and documentary films. They are aways screened at Créteil or at San Francisco Pride. This year she filmed veterans from her film Gendernauts (1999): Sandy Stone, Susan Stryker, Stafford and Max Wolf Valerio who are pioneers in the trans movement in San Francisco. Now between 58 and 84 years old, they have all moved out of the city and are the subject of her latest film Genderation 1979).

The closing film was Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, by Estonian director Anna Hints about the stories women tell in smoke saunas and have told since the Middle Ages. Screened in Paris at Cinéma Saint-André des Arts with Hints in attendance, the film is an illustration of the bonds of women in the closed environment of thick wood cabins that host saunas. The almost overbearing heat produced by the steam rising from hot stones is followed by a brave plunge into freezing lake water in holes cut through the ice by an axe. The sauna culture is the same in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland as it is in the Baltic States and one that unites women in rituals passed down from generation to generation.

My favorite film this year was Réas (Accused) by Lola Arias (Argentina 2024), about incarcerated women at a prison in Argentina with the most enchanting comic timing. It was a new kind of musical and made in a way that draws attention to the bonds women form in captvity that is far from glum and downright hilarious. The actors were released from prison in 2020 and had served their time. I was able to meet with the Créteil Festival director Jackie Buet about the program for next year which includes bringing sound to the festival with more podcasts like the ones now on their website. The 2024 festival was a very good one. In fact the 2023 Palme d'Or and 2024 Academy Award winner Justine Triet who wrote and directed Anatomy of a Fall was features in a special seminar. Last year the 2022 Nobel Prize Literature Laureate was invited - Annie Ernaux, and the Créteil director was very proud about Créteil hosting a Palme d'Or and Nobel Prize Laureate. It was a very high quality Festival so I'm pleased about that it shows every sign of continuing.

Awards 2024

Meilleur long métrage fiction (best feature) : Prix Grand Jury Prix SFCC – Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma Kalak d’Isabella Eklöf (Danemark/Norvège/Pays-Bas/Suède/Finlande/Groenland)

Meilleur long métrage documentaire (best feature documentary): Prix Medici for Equality – Anna Politkovskaïa

Prix du public (Créteil public prize) Réas de Lola Arias (Argentine/Allemagne/Suisse)

Mention spéciale jury documentaire : Le spectre de Boko Haram de Cyrielle Raingou (France/Cameroun)

Prix Graine de Cinéphage (section jeune public) Youth Prize Prix public fiction Sweet Dreams d’Eva Sendijarevic (Pays-Bas/Indonésie/La Réunion)

Premier long métrage (Premiere of feature films at festival) Prix France Télévisions – Des Images et des Elles La vie acrobate de Caroline Confort (Suisse/France)

Palmarès courts métrages Short film awards Prix public - court métrage international Public prize short film international Places I’ve Called My Own de Sushma Khadepaun (Inde/France)

Prix public – court métrage français Public prize French short film Coach d’Alix Lafosse (France)

Prix UPEC Places I’ve Called My Own de Sushma Khadepaun (Inde/France)

Prix INA – meilleure réalisatrice francophone Best director Francophone Les Abeilles d’eau douce d’Emma Kanouté (Belgique)

© 2024 - Moira Jean Sullivan: 05/01/24
Movie Magazine International