Women's film fest launches

City's inaugural event has 50 flicks

October 12, 2007|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Reporter

Nia Malika Dixon is anxious to get this weekend's inaugural Baltimore Women's Film Festival started, and not just because her six-minute short, Temporary Loss of Power, is among the films being shown.

"It's a big stepping-stone to my career," says Dixon, a 33-year-old Baltimore native who moved to California in 2005. "I have big plans to produce indie films. The exposure, the networking, that's the most important part of the festival. Being among my peers, other women filmmakers, that's important to me. This forum, with all these different kinds of women, that's awesome."

If the first BWFF lives up to its potential, it certainly should be. With some 50 films on the schedule, audiences will have the chance to sample all manner of genres: shorts, documentaries, feature films, even television shows. And with about a dozen directors scheduled to be in attendance, coming to Baltimore from all over the country, the weekend should provide plenty of opportunities not only to see the work of women filmmakers but to help expand some careers and maybe recruit a few newcomers to the ranks.

"This will be a chance to discuss ideas and further their creativity," says festival co-founder Deanna Shapiro. "The more people share ideas, the more fire is set to the flame, to enhance that creative spark. People can bounce ideas off each other, people can make contacts to [help] produce more films."

Shapiro notes that of the people who worked on the 250 top-grossing films from last year, only about 15 percent were women. "We want to present and celebrate women's artistic creativity and showcase it to a broader audience," she says.

Dixon's film, which she wrote as part of her application to the University of Southern California, features two women - one a single mom, the other a CEO. They find themselves trapped in an elevator, and the film watches as their reactions illustrate what Dixon calls "the frailty of power."

Ironically, Dixon hopes her film, scheduled to be shown at 5:30 p.m. Sunday as part of the Short Films: "A Moment of Crisis" program, will help her get some power of her own. She has already started her own production and distribution company, Audaz Entertainment, with an eye toward making films her way, without having to kowtow to anyone's preconceived ideas.

"I don't want to operate in the Hollywood studio system," she says. "It's corporate, and I am so very anti-corporate. I wanted to start my own company, to get my films out there."

Here's betting the festival will showcase more than a few similarly renegade missions, as well as some that will be more conventionally mainstream. Some of the weekend's more promising entries look to include:

Luggage, from writer-producer Veronique N. Doumbe, is the story of an African woman living in the U.S. who decides to visit her family back home, and encounters problems getting all the gifts she's asked to bring through airport security. (11 a.m. tomorrow, part of the Dramatic Short Film Sequence program.)

Sworn Virgins, from documentary filmmaker Elvira Dones, a native Albanian now living in suburban Washington. Her film looks at a group of Albanian women who have opted to live their lives as men - not through surgery, but by pledging to retain their virginity and committing themselves to acting as men do. (1:30 p.m. tomorrow, part of the Documentary Films Sequence - Maryland and D.C. Filmmakers program.)

The Wild Sheep, the Fox and Love, from documentary filmmaker Anne Magnussen, follows a Norwegian woman as she chucks her middle-class lifestyle to move with her boyfriend to an island and tend wild sheep. (11 a.m. Sunday, part of the Documentary Film Showcase.)

A REALLY Intimate Portrait ... of a Complete Unknown, from writer-director-star Dani Alpert, explores how a nobody could be the subject of a Lifetime-style Intimate Portrait program. (2:30 p.m. Sunday, part of the Comedic Shorts program.)

Aimee Price, from writer-director Julien Roussel, stars Anastasia Drake (TV's Port Charles and The Young and the Restless) as a young woman who agrees to exchange one year of her youth for a lifetime of happiness. Turns out she doesn't get quite the bargain she expected. (7 p.m. Sunday, part of the Films About Birth, Aging and Other Journeys to the Unknown program.)

The festival runs tomorrow at Red Emma's 2640 coffeehouse, 2640 St. Paul St., and Sunday at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Tickets are $10-$15 per film program, $70 for an all-festival pass. Information: bwfilmfestival.com.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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