Last week marked the latest Girls In Film (GIF) event, led by founder Nikola Vasakova at 71A Gallery. GIF is a community platform curating a series of events broadcasting female talent within the film industry and encouraging collaboration between young people.
Initiatives like GIF are important within an industry with a longstanding imposement of gender inequality. In spite of a surge in campaigns and funding geared towards female filmmakers there remains a clear gap beit in pay, age discrimination or sheer lack of opportunity. GIF offers a space for communal support and networking for people from all walks of life.
Last week GIF screened six diverse and engaging short films from aspiring female directors.
Set entirely in Palmers Green Station, Jessica Bishopp’s Platform 1 examines the lives of those we stand amongst every day through the horror of the morning commute though know nothing about. From the point of view of the platform shop we are lead through sequential images of rundown commuters whilst hearing from working mothers, aspiring students, cancer survivors and surgeons. At this sobering time of day, it is impossible to not see one’s self in this procession of tired eyes. Bishopp interweaves closeups of train mechanics with the autopilot trudge of the working man and woman, stirring a feeling that we are slaves to a system that we may need as much as it needs us.
Recently bought by The New York Times, Victoria Fiori’s My Deadly, Beautiful City exposes the poisonous sulphur emissions burdening the environment and local residents of industrial wasteland’ Norilsk, Russia. Norilsk is the northernmost city on Earth and home to the world’s leading producer of nickel and palladium, expelling more than two million tons of gas into the atmosphere every year. Fiori’s landscape of ice ladened power plants and housebound children reveals the damaging impact of twenty first century exhaust. Her expertise as a visual storyteller shine. When filming resident doctor admit to the deadly effects of sulphur to local inhabitants, Fiori holds the shot for that extra uncomfortable beat. This is soon followed by a requiem for the extinction of the city’s vegetation as images of solitary dying trees are stunningly presented in the snow as though soldiers killed in action.
Naomi Berrio-Allen introduced the screening of her short Body Rites by discussing her reaction to the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. It was her anger at this act of police brutality and civil unrest that urged her to tackle the issue using art. Berrio-Allen uses contemporary dance and movement to explore notions of masculinity and social violence in urban areas. Set on the bare concrete canvas of Peckham’s Frank’s, each dancer (choreographed by her brother) masterfully works alongside the abundance of natural light evoking the unshakable primitiveness that remains within modern man.
Tom-Lee Ziegelman’s Narciso was the one of the only two fictional films of the night; a touching vignette exploring the role of the foreigner. Opening on a close up of two fingers trailing up their spouse’s stomach, Ziegelman equates the relationship between two new lovers with that of moving to a new place. Originally the script was written for a hedrosexual relationship, though, after a series of male actors not being able to make the shoot Ziegelman decided to stand in spurring a more intimate redrafting of her script resulting in an incredibly authentic on screen chemistry.
Sophie Littman’s Day at The Beach uses coastal landscape imagery and poetry to explore memory and truth. Two people who have never met reunite to reconstruct the events that they claim to have shared on the beach. Litman stumbled upon an old quote she found in a sketchbook, “Fascination exists in a field of non-contradiction, of entities beyond binaries”, and made the film to explore this idea, suggesting that despite knowing something is not real we still feel a compulsion to believe it.
Ellen Pearson’s She Gathers No Moss, is a comical tale of the surreal life of Nikki Mollet. Nikki came to London in 1962 and had a love affair with the city, declaring that she will never leave Camden. She was part of an era of anti-establishmentism and social revolution. Nikki humorously narrates the documentary, using audio clippings of recorded conversations with Pearson, laid over a series of photographs from her archived albums that span a lifetime within a few minutes.
Words by Sophie Park