Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020

Berlin Feminist Film Week

A list of all films, workshops, and short films for 5-9 March 2020

Back for its seventh edition, the hotly anticipated Berlin Feminist Film Week returns to the city this Thursday with an amazing lineup of feature films, short films, and workshops.

“As of now, the patriarchy controls storytelling and most films are made from a white cis-male perspective,” say the programme’s founders, “the mission of the Berlin Feminist Film Week is to inspire, entertain and most importantly, pay tribute to all wonderfully talented, inspiring filmmakers out there who challenge the hegemony of white cis-male filmmakers.” From a documentary on a French voguing legend, to a workshop on queer baiting – read below to learn more about this year’s programme.


Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

The Perfect Candidate’ / Haifaa Al-Mansour / 2019 / 104 minutes / Arabic with English subtitles / Thursday – 8pm – Babylon Berlin

Maryam is a doctor in a small Saudi-Arabian town. Despite being highly competent, she continuously has to fight to earn the respect of her employees and patients. After complaining about the conditions of the road leading up to her clinic, her demands are met with disinterest by local officials. When Maryam’s attempt to visit a medical conference in Dubai fails due to not having a male travel companion, she realises that signing up as a candidate for a local election will allow her to access through road blocks and also give her some leverage to change road conditions. Maryam employs the help of her two sisters to organise the launch of her electoral campaign that will challenge the patriarchal structure and social codes of Saudi Arabia. At every corner they are met with the restrictions against women [sic], but Maryam’s voice only gets louder, her steps more courageous and her demands more radical.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Feminist Love Talks: ‘Captive Hearts’ / Joana Nin / 2013 / 77 minutes / Portuguese with English subtitles / Friday – 3:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

This documentary follows the stories of women [sic] in freedom who date male inmates in the South of Brazil. The film investigates how these relationships work, and what they are able to build or destroy in their lives. Through emotional confidences, letters lovingly decorated, and a privileged access to the intimacy of the couples, this universe of free women [sic] who remain captive outside in the name of love is revealed.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Lucky Grandma’ / Sasie Sealy / 2019 / 100 minutes / Cantonese, Mandarin, English with English subtitles / Friday – 7:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers – German Premiere

In the heart of Chinatown, New York, an ornery, chain-smoking, newly widowed 80-year-old grandma (Tsai Chin) is eager to live life as an independent woman, despite the worry of her family. When a local fortune teller (Wai Ching Ho ) predicts a most auspicious day in her future, Grandma decides to head to the casino and goes all in, only to land herself on the wrong side of luck.

Director Sasie Sealy brings to life a dark comedy about immigrant life, the vulnerabilities of ageing, and an unexpected friendship.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Fabulous’ / Audrey Jean Baptiste / 2019 / 46 minutes / French with English subtitles / Friday –   9:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

Lasseindra Ninja, is a professional transgenre dancer and well-known artist in France’s voguing scene. After building her career through the balls of New York, France, and Brazil, among many other main stages, she comes back to her home country to introduce voguing in French Guiana. By the means of her workshop, we catch a glance of its emergence and its impact on self-empowerment for a consolidating LGBTQ community.

For the screening of Fabulous, the Berlin Feminist Film Week are collaborating with the ballroom collective So Extra Berlin of Mother Zueira Gucci. They are proud to host the Legendary Mother Lasseindra Ninja from Paris, who will answer all voguing-related questions and present a showcase of the history of Vogue Performance.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Queer Genius’ / Chet Catherine Pancake / 2019 / 135 minutes / English / Saturday – 2:45pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers – European Premiere

Queer Genius explores the remarkable lives of five queer female artists: Barbara Hammer, Eileen Myles, Black Quantum Futurism, Moor Mother, and Dynasty Handbag / Jibz Cameron. Deep, affectionate, and intimate portraits resonate across generations as critically acclaimed and notoriously radical queer artists overcome personal and political obstacles to find new ways to think about and live their own “genius.”

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

No Box For Me. An Intersex Story’ / Floriane Devinge / 2018 / 58 minutes / French with Engish subtitles / Friday – 5:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

M and Deborah, like an estimated 1.7% of people, were born intersex; with sex characteristics different from the binary understanding that everyone must be either male or female. As with many others in their situation, M and Deborah were both subjected to invasive surgery while they were only children, uncomprehending of what was being done to them. This documentary looks at how many intersex persons, later in life, attempt to reclaim ownership of their own bodies and identities.

This screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the rights and lives of intersex people in Europe today. Guests will include the movie’s protagonist, Audrey Aegerter, Noah Rieser of the advice and research center TransInterQueer e.V (trIQ) as well as Ins A Kromminga from OII Europe.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Focus Feminist Heritage: ‘Bandits’ / Katja von Garnier / 1997 / 180 minutes / German with English subtitles / Saturday – 7:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

Emma, Luna, Angel, and Marie start a rock band while in prison and escape during a performance at the police ball. Once on the run, they take an attractive male hostage and play concerts along the way. While it may have been panned by German film critics upon its release, Bandits was an instant hit among female film-goers, quickly becoming a cult feminist film.

Introduced to the programme last year, Focus Feminist Heritage, examines and dissects historical feminist films as a means to preserve their legacy. This year Bandits-actor Jasmin Tabatabai will join a conversation with American studies scholar Dr. Maria Sulimma, who will introduce the film with a short talk on female prison films and pop culture.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Vai’ / Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumua, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Miria George, Ofa Guttenbeil, Marina McCartney, Nicole Whippy and Sharon Whippy / 2019 / 90 minutes / English, Samoan, Maroi, Tonga with English subtitles / Sunday – 4:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

Beautifully shot over 7 Pacific countries, and played by a different indigenous actress in each place, Vai links together a story of family, culture, and at times, isolation. A delicate exploration into the meaning of growth, adaptation, and most notably, a connection to water and home.

Vai is a portmanteau feature film made by nine female Pacific filmmakers, filmed in seven different Pacific countries: Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue, and Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Intersectional Perspectives on Climate Justice: ‘MAXIMA’ / Claudia Sparrow / 2019 / 130 minutes / Spanish with English subtitles / Sunday – 6:30pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

MAXIMA tells the incredible true story of the Peruvian farmer Máxima Acuña who stood up to one of the largest gold-mining companies in the world and triumphed. MAXIMA tracks the journey from the Peruvian Andes all the way through the Peruvian Supreme Court to the door of the World Bank in Washington D.C.. A journey that will involve conflict, eviction, violence, and criminal prosecution. 

Following the screening of MAXIMA there will be a panel discussion as part of the film week’s Intersectional Perspectives on Climate Justice programme. The panel will look at the climate justice movement through an intersectional lens to ask what role gender, race, and social economic structures play in the climate crisis and how it is affecting lives and nature. With guests such as Avrina Jos, Felamira Rodriguez, Malika Virah-Sawmyr, and Isadora Cardoso, panelists will explore how the climate movement can become more inclusive.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

93QUEEN’ / Paula Eislet / 2018 / 90 minutes / English, Yiddish with English subtitles / Sunday – 7pm – Babylon Berlin

93QUEEN follows a group of tenacious Hasidic women [sic] who are smashing the patriarchy in their community by creating the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York City. Director Paula Eiselt’s debut feature documentary, 93QUEEN offers up a unique portrayal of a group of religious women [sic] who are taking matters into their own hands to change their own community from within.

Berlin Feminist Film Week 2020
Courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Lingua Franca’ / Isabel Sandoval / 2019 / 90 minutes / English, Tagalog with English subtitles / Sunday – 9pm – Babylon Berlin

Olivia, an undocumented Filipino transwoman, works as a caregiver to Olga, an elderly Russian woman, in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. When Olivia runs out of options to attain legal status in the US, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s adult grandson, in the pursuit of a marriage-based green card.

Sensual and provocative, Lingua Franca is critically acclaimed filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s third narrative feature. After the screening, Sandoval will join the audience for a Q&A via Skype.


The Other* Gazes’: Connecting Counter narratives of women* in Film / Saturday – 10:30am – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

This workshop will look at the innumerable empty spaces in the history of film and film industry regarding womxn’s perspectives – at work behind the camera, as directors of fiction, and documentary. It will include discussions about the continual silencing of feminist perspectives in film and the film industry. The workshop is about deconstructing, writing anew, taking one’s place, 

claiming, collective knowledge production, and empowerment. 

The workshop will be led by Aline and Hanna, two members of TINT Filmkollektiv, a Berlin-based, international womxn’s filmmaking collective. Aline edits films and videos and gives workshops for adults, young people, and children – always with a heart for intercultural contexts. Hanna studied art, art history, and documentary filmmaking and teaches educational film workshops for teenagers and young adults. 

Setting the tone, making a point – Editing opening sequences’ / Saturday – 2pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

The first few minutes or even seconds set the tone for any film. In this workshop, filmmaker, editor, and teacher Kat Voss will guide participants through several examples of extraordinary cinematic opening sequences. Participants can also, if they want, bring examples of opening sequences they think are effective. The participants are also invited to bring a project that they are currently editing, if they would like to have feedback on their opening.

Queer Baiting and the Stray Bullet’ / Sunday – 11:30am – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

The queer friend who turns out to be a bisexual. The fabulously promiscuous gay friend who jumps from relationship to relationship. The friends who are clearly more than “friends.” The fabulous drag queen who rocks the ball but doesn’t allow drag kings on stage. The perfect LGBTQ+ couple who are killed by a random stray bullet. 

We recognise that film and media are hyper-representations of our reality and world, but we are all completely exhausted by the LGBTQ+ tropes. In this workshop, writer Allia Sadeghipour will lead participants to discuss, dissect, and reevaluate these cinematic tropes in order to develop true characters.

The “A” Word: Examining the Concept of Allyship’ / Sunday – 2pm – Berliner Union Film Ateliers

When we talk about issues of equality, social justice, and inclusion, what does it actually mean to be an ally? This workshop examines the concept of being a so-called “ally,” exploring questions like:

‣ Who gets this label and who gives it?

‣ How does one engage in conversation about marginalised communities that they are not a part of?

‣ How can we avoid turning attempts to support into even more emotional labor for those we want to help?

These topics, and more, will be discussed in this interactive workshop hosted by linguist and educator, Jarral Boyd, in cooperation with the community for social equity, aequa.

The workshop will be conducted in English.


The Berlin Feminist Film Week will also be screening a number of short films. Find more information about these shorts below.

Subtle Whispers

Who am I am me

The Day I Met Her

SomeBody told HerStory


All film and workshop descriptions have been condensed and edited for clarity. Text and images courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week. For more information, visit their website here. For more art and culture, click here.