Ok, I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the idea of a “women’s” festival. I suppose that may be because (a) I was always a bit of a tomboy and I like to hang out with the boys; and (b) my very first professional exhibition was (or became) an “exhibition of women’s art” and this was such a HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE of passive aggression, domination and submission and overall bitchfest that ever since then I have rejected anything that had “women” explicitly in the title.
Until… what made me decide to check out Underwire? I guess cos it was held in Shoreditch, which is my patch, so I didn’t have to make any vile London Transport effort. And the wording on the website looked intriguing and let’s face it, quite pleasant. So, off I went. Nothing to lose.
The thing I didn’t like I guess was that most of the people there seemed to know each other and hung out in little groups which were very difficult to access; you know that thing where you find yourself sitting next to someone and they turn slightly away so you are faced with their back – like “oh this conversation [about films, not personal] is for me and my friends”. Ok that is your right, but it is a bit off-putting at a festival. And it’s also classic female behaviour. Grrrrr.
HAVING SAID THAT, the organisers were not like that at all: they made a great atmosphere with a down to earth approach and a great choice of films. My personal faves were “57Ways” a Canadian film by Sharlene Bamboat ; and, very different, “Sis” by Deborah Haywood.
They also hosted a great panel discussion where, instead of discussing “the role of women in the film biz and boo hoo we’re so oppressed” they just had 5 great feisty women up there talking about making films. Then they also brought in the superb Linda Aronson, who is a wonderful writer, an engaging and funny speaker and a generous, insightful educator who has made it part of her life’s work (though a series of books and lectures such as this one) to help produce more great writing. Very inspirational, more on that below.
So, I’ll keep my eye on Underwire.