Women of Wonders Film Fest 2015

May 28

Doors open at 5:30 | Screening starts at 6:00

 

La Maestra | 30min

Directed by Elizabeth Pepin Silva

La Maestra (The Teacher) is a documentary about a young Mexican woman who decides to follow her own path and in doing so, inspires other to do the same and changes her community's expectations of what's appropriate for girls and women. The film profiles Mayra Agulair, a teacher in a tiny rural fishing village in Baja, Mexico, who becomes the first Mexican woman surfer in her area. Told in Spanish using mainly Mayra's voice, the film shows how she has gone on to inspire both her students and other local women to take up the sport and follow their dreams. Through her deep connection to the ocean, Mayra has also become an environmentalist, teaching her students the importance of land and sea stewardship through hands on learning. In the film, Mayra talks about the amazing surfing waves in her town -- a gift of nature that has brought thousands of gringo surfers to the area over the years, forever changing Mayra's hometown in both positive and negative ways. In this regard, the film is also a subtle commentary on the impact outsider surf tourists can have on small communities around the globe and the need for all of us to be mindful of taking care of the environment, no matter where we are.  La Maestra (The Teacher) is an important film because it features a strong Latina woman role model that will appeal to everyone.  There is no surf media hype, no surf company sponsors, and no surf industry to spoil the soul of this film.

 

The Lei Makers | 8min

Directed by Allison Kennedy

Mahealani is a proud Hawaiian lei maker who runs one of the many lei stands at the local airport. Due to close proximity and similarity in products, the stands are always in fierce competition. When Mahealani's lei stand neighbor and longtime rival, Yoshiko, devises a way to overshadow her, the two stands transform into a battle zone as the women compete to win over each other's customers.

 

Little Hurricane | 14min

Directed by Paloma Lommel 

Miranda, a rebellious teenage girl has to take care of her mother Grace who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. A year after the death of her father and younger brother, the progression of Grace's mental decline reinforced tragically. Miranda struggles to find her own identity at this crucial age while she has to witness her mother's loss of identity.

 

What's Under Your Hat | 74min

Directed by Lola Barrera and Iñaki Peñafiel

This absorbing documentary traces the life of Judith Scott, a deaf 62-year old woman with Down Syndrome who became an internationally collected and critically-acclaimed sculptor after 36 years of incarceration in a mental institution. As a recent book on Judith Scott ("Metamorphosis" by John MacGregor) noted, "Scott has spent the past fifteen years producing a series of totally non-functional objects - obsessively wrapped, knotted, braided fiber masses revealing hints of concealed scavenged objects, pieces which loom large and wraithlike or sit as small tightly wound secrets. Her works, to us, appear to be works of Outsider Art sculpture, except that the notion of sculpture is far beyond her understanding. As well as being mentally disabled, Judith cannot hear or speak, and she has little concept of language. There is no way of asking her what she is doing, yet her compulsive involvement with the shaping of forms in space seems to imply that at some level she knows." What's Under Your Hat? visits with Judith in California where she lives with her fraternal twin sister Joyce (who openly talks about their childhood together and their emotional reunion after nearly four decades apart), and at the Creative Growth Center, a non-profit center dedicated to serving disabled artists. It is at Creative Growth where we are introduced to other mentally and physically challenged individuals who create extraordinary works of art, and where Judith's own work is viewed in the context of art history. 

 

May 29

Doors open at 5:30 | Screening starts at 6:00

 

Makers: Women in Space | 54 min

Makers: Women in Space traces the history of women pioneers in the U.S. space program. Some, like aviators Wally Funk and Jerrie Cobb, passed the same grueling tests as male astronauts, only to be dismissed by NASA, the military, and even Lyndon Johnson, as a distraction. It wasn’t until 1995 that Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a spacecraft. The program includes interviews with Collins, as well as Sally Ride’s classmates Shannon Lucid, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan, and features Mae Jemison, the first woman of color astronaut, and Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station. The hour ends with the next generation of women engineers, mathematicians and astronauts—the new group of pioneers, like Marleen Martinez, who continue to make small but significant steps forward.

 

Pawa Meri: Lapan | 28 min

Directed by Renagi Taukarai

Lapan is a film about Miriam Potopi, one of the first female village magistrates in Papua New Guinea. Village courts began operating in PNG in 1975 and they now serve two thirds of the population. The role of village courts is to ensure peace and harmony in the area for which it is established by mediating in, and endeavouring to obtain just and amicable settlement of disputes. Traditionally, village courts have been male-dominated and virtually all the magistrates are men.

 

Miriam Potope was born on the island of Manus in 1945. Married at the age of 13, she became a single mother shortly afterwards when her husband left her for another woman. Despite Miriam’s personal difficulties and her limited formal education, she volunteered to become a magistrate in the Buloso Village Court in 1985. This made her the first female magistrate in PNG. At the age of 66, Miriam is a strong-willed, outspoken and fearless woman of spirit – who places great value in her traditional customs, culture and her religion. She inspires other women in her village to be strong and follow their hearts.

 

Miriam’s charismatic personality, her understanding of cultural laws and protocols as well as the challenges she confronts as a female village magistrate is captured in Lapan. It provides the audience with an understanding of the village court system unique to Papua New Guinea and the role Miriam plays as a leader in her community and beyond.

 

Winning Girl | 60min

Directed by Kim Bassford

Teshya Alo is 16 years old and 125 pounds. But on the judo and wrestling mats, she throws women twice her age and pounds heavier. And she beats boys. Now, she has her sights set on taking gold at both the judo and wrestling world championships–and eventually the Olympics. But it won’t be easy.

 

She is younger and less experienced than her opponents. She trains from Hawai‘i and the cost to travel to mainland and international tournaments drains her family’s resources. She’s a student at a private school for Native Hawaiians. And she’s going through puberty.

 

WINNING GIRL follows the four-year journey of this part-Polynesian female teenage judo and wrestling phenomenon from Hawai‘i and her family, and in doing so tells the dynamic story of an elite athlete on her ascent, a girl facing the challenges of growing up and an entire family dedicated to a single dream.

 

May 30

Doors open at 5:30 | Screening starts at 6:00

 

Pawa Meri: Meri Markham | 28 min

Directed by Klinit Barry

Meri Markham takes us on a journey with Jennifer Baing Waiko, a Dampi Dampi clanswoman of the Atzera people of the Markham Valley in Morobe Province. She is of mixed PNG and New Zealand heritage; the daughter of a chief and PNG political veteran, Andrew Baing, and her New Zealand mother, Susan, a successful educational author and retired teacher. Jennifer runs the Baing family agri-business on a cocoa farm in the fertile grassy plains of Markham with her husband and two young sons and also manages her own non-profit organization, SAVE PNG, which uses media education to promote healthy living through sustainable food and agricultural practices. In 2012, she ran in the national elections for the Markham open electoral seat. 

 

The film describes Jennifer’s return to her community as a woman that has been educated overseas but has not forgotten her roots and making a commitment to her people in Markham by standing for the 2012 Markham open election.

 

Since 1977, Papua New Guinea has had eight elections with over a hundred Parliamentary seats, but only ten of them have been won by women. Papua New Guinean women make up only 2.7% of total MPs. This figure is less than the 3.7% average across the Pacific (excluding New Zealand and Australia) – a region with the lowest rate of women’s participation in formal politics in the world.

 

Three Voices  | 60min

Directed by Otilia Portillo Padua

Three Voices weaves the intimate love stories of three women from different generations: an adolescent, a middle-aged divorcee, and my ninety-year-old great aunt. Through a careful exploration of space and color, inspired by technicolor melodramas of the 40s and 50s, I trace their experience, exploring the rooms they inhabit and the memories that populate them, extracting their voice and their loves from a rich texture of archival material.

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