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‘Girls on Film’ co-founder mulls thoughts of feminist follow-up

Organisers of Melbourne’s first feminist film festival have hailed the three-day event a great success and are planning a sequel – events celebrating feminism and cinema all year round.

Words by Matthew Wade
 
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Karen Pickering, the director of the Girls on Film Festival (GOFF), said she hoped the idea could become “a permanent fixture on the arts and feminist communities” calendar, with year-round programming and touring.

Plans are under way for summer pop-up sessions with Blow Up Cinema and Ms Pickering’s own monthly feminist talkshow, Cherchez La Femme, but she also likes the idea of a “GOFF roadshow”.

“I think there are cities around the country that would love to see GOFF roll into town for the weekend,” she said, after reporting better-than-expected attendances at the festival, which was funded through a Pozible crowd-sourcing campaign.

“It’s important to me that feminism doesn’t always feel draining and depressing. It absolutely is sometimes, and that’s actually good because from that comes anger and anger is a very productive emotion. But so is love, and belonging, happiness, amusement . . . ” — Karen PickeringGOFF director

More than 1000 people attended last month’s event, with several of its 10 screenings selling out, including The Punk Singer and Nine to Five, while about 300 Pozible donors were treated to an exclusive screening on opening night of The Runaways.

The GOFF team also recently released their GOFF 100, a mixtape of 100 feminist songs as voted by patrons of the festival through social media.

Ms Pickering reflected: “It’s important to me that feminism doesn’t always feel draining and depressing. It absolutely is sometimes, and that’s actually good because from that comes anger and anger is a very productive emotion.

“But so is love, and belonging, happiness, amusement — these other emotions energise and activate people, too.

“Feminist consciousness-raising happens in all sorts of ways — I do it through conversations and entertainment, and the whole GOFF team is on the same page. Now we have a huge audience who get it, too.”

The festival’s associate director, Rohan Spong, also sees value in celebrating women in cinema. 

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“The film industry can be very male-occupied, and film narratives very male-orientated. I think all at GOFF did a great job of redressing that and providing a fun and inclusive space to explore women’s stories on the big screen.”

Mr Spong also directed the documentary T is for Teacher, one of the films screened during the festival, which looks at a group of transgender teachers who transitioned from male to female within the US school system.

Of its screening, he said: “I was thrilled to see transwomen’s experiences embraced by the patrons. It’s a film that tells of some fairly emotional journeys and there was a tangible sense that the audience had been moved by what they had seen.

“That’s very much what I aspire to with my work, so it was a great affirmation for me in sharing the film once more.”

The festival’s name was inspired by the 1990s underground punk rock feminist movement Riot Grrrl, a group of activists, publishers and performers who held anti-consumerist views of third-wave feminism.

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