Women at Lido, something has changed

Whether they are saints or murderers, fighters or persecuted, artists dealing with ectoplasm or daughters coming home right on time to assist their dying mothers, women have definitely occupied the imagination of filmmakers. It was about time because victories are not made of percentages and numbers but of perspective and stories. In the international showcase of the Venice Film Festival, women’s epics shine with vigour, variety, and originality. As President of the Jury, Julianne Moore is a good sign for the female directors running for Golden Lion. Courageous, eclectic, outgoing, and capable of appearing at once glacial and passionate, the actress is a perfect example of down-to-earth neo-feminism. She’s far from proclamations and sectarian deployments, and this is what the cause of equality needs today more than ever. She has two women at her side. The French director and last year’s Golden Lion for L’evenement, Audrey Diwan, and Iranian actress Leila Hatami, Silver Bear in 2011 at Berlinale for her performance in A Separation. Moore guarantees a free and sensitive look at the works of authors of both genders with a massive presence of female directors without controversy or emphasis, as it always should have been. 

Alice Diop reconstructs a trial for infanticide to the Senegalese protagonist of Saint Omer, while Joanna Hogg tells a ghost story with Tilda Swinton in a haunted house in Wales. Susanna Nicchiarelli describes the revolutionary figure of Saint Chiara. Laura Poitras signs the portrait of photographer Nan Goldin. Rebecca Zlotowski is in competition today with Les Enfants des autres, the autobiographical story of her relationship with her partner, the director Jacques Audiard. The number of female directors running for Golden Lion shows a growing trend. 68.8% of the titles submitted for selection are still directed by men, but the stories are more and more female-driven. 

Carolina Cavalli brings into focus, in Amanda (Orizzonti Extra), starring Benedetta Porcaroli, the profile of a contemporary girl that makes its mark. Nezouh is directed by French-born Syrian director Soudade Kaada and is an allegory of female emancipation in Damascus during the Syrian conflict. Michal Vinik’s Valeria is Getting Married follows one day of two Ukrainian sisters relocated to Israel. The happiest man in the world is directed by Macedonian Teona Strugar Mitevska and is the story of Asja (Jelena Kordici), a Sarajevo single woman dealing with matters of love and forgiveness. At the end of the day, the tide of female authors is strong and vital, and moreover, Catherine Deneuve, a concentration of energy and charm, received this year’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Battles for equality can be won without giving up a single crumb of personality. Deneuve always knew that.   

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