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FFFest: A Weekend Celebrating the Women Who Make Cinema

On October 25-27, the Quad Cinema, New York’s first four-screen multiplex theater, was home to FFFest, a series of screenings and panels devoted to the achievements of women in cinema. This is the second year in a row that FFFest has stormed the scene, and its lineup was again packed with carefully curated screenings that truly presented the impact of women in filmmaking. The recurring festival aims not to segregate gender, but rather to bring attention to the importance of the efforts of women in this field, as well as to provide a platform for filmmakers of all genders and races. By hosting such an effective and engrossing festival, FFFest appears as a celebration of the artful side of cinema, as well as an exaltation of the women who deserve recognition for making it happen.

One of the films shown was The Music of Regret, an experimental 2006 project directed by Laurie Simmons and starring Meryl Streep . The film is divided into three different acts, detailing one woman’s relationships represented through ventriloquist dummies. It is presented as a musical and even closes with a dance sequence amongst a group of inanimate objects, such as pocket watch and gun. As a whole, the short movie is whimsical and emotional, encapsulating very human emotions in crafty, childlike elements. 

Afterwards, the director of the film, Laurie Simmons, and another impressive director, Shirin Neshat, held a Q&A in which they discussed their creative processes, similarities in struggle as women in the art community, and overall filmmaking advice. Though the two artists clearly have their distinct styles, there is overlap in the difficulties they have overcome to create their work, and their extreme admiration for each other was apparent. Laurie discussed her transition from photographer to filmmaker and the journey in making her movies, emphasizing the overlap in various artistic mediums and her inspirations. Their talk was wholesome, encouraging, and inspiring, especially for other creative women, as both create different bodies of work, yet they are aware and profoundly supportive of each other. Despite their differences, the two had much in common, such as their mutual time as professors and plethora of artistic advice for the eager audience. 

Another event at the festival was the “How to Break In & Navigate Your First Film Deal” panel, moderated by Vulture writer Hunter Harris. The panel consisted of Desiree Akhavan (film director and writer known for Appropriate Behavior, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and The Bisexual), Dianna Agron (director, producer and actress known for Shiva Baby, I Am Number Four, Glee, and Berlin, I Love You), and Erin Lee Carr (director, producer, and writer for the documentaries, At The Heart Of Gold & I Love You Now Die). Each woman had valuable, sincere advice to give to everyone who asked questions, whether they were middle school-aged girls or adults. 

As a whole, it was clear that the panel, as well as the rest of FFFest, wholeheartedly maintained its intent to serve as an inspirational, empowering event. By bringing attention to artistic pieces of work created by women whose talents have been historically ignored on the basis of gender, FFFest has created an entirely unique environment. Hopefully, the festival will occur for years to come and will serve to inspire those who attend with the incredible talent and efforts of those who put on the program.

Sophie Wilkes is a New York University student and contributor at Honeysuckle Magazine.

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