Women Directors Rock the Tribeca Film Fest

by Emily Rems

The 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival has finally screened it’s last flick, and as the dust settles, it’s time to look back and appreciate some of the female directors whose films were among the fest’s most exceptional work. Keep an eye out for these titles in the coming year—their impressive showings here in N.Y.C. hopefully mean that distribution deals will be right around the corner:

The Best Narrative Feature award went to first-time Swedish director Lisa Aschan for her film She Monkeys, an intense tale of teen girl friendship set in the world of competitive equestrian acrobatics. Everyone knows horses and young women are a winning combination, and Aschan was able to ride this screenplay she wrote with creative collaborator Josefine Adolfsson all the way to the top of this year’s honors.

But Aschan wasn’t the only Scandinavian auteur to win with a teen girl tell-all. My favorite of the fest, the Norwegian coming-of-age comedy Turn Me On, Goddammit, netted writer/director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen the award for Best Screenplay and for good reason. At turns hilarious and poignant, this small town tale of slut shaming had a dynamite cast of deadpan young actresses, and a take on pubescent horniness that left viewers giggling right through the credits.

The trend of international women sweeping the creative prizes continued with Israeli filmmaker Alma Har’el’s Best Documentary win for Bombay Beach. This surreal, meditative portrait of the residents who remain among the barren desert ruins of Southern California’s Salton Sea—a former resort area that declined after it’s 1960s heyday—was a doc that behaved like an art film, and Har’el’s creativity was a hit with the Tribeca jury.

Another film that got props for it’s contemplative tone, dream-like visuals, and bedraggled resort-town atmosphere was Mexican writer/director Yulene Olaizola’s narrative feature Artificial Paradises. This tale of a lone young woman trying to kick heroin at an isolated resort on Mexico’s craggy Gulf Coast earned Olaizola’s collaborator Luisa Tillinger the prize for Best Cinematography and had some of the best buzz of the fest among critics.

The above pics garnered the most attention once the awards were handed out. But there were still more female-helmed films this year that deserve some love. Be sure to check these out too when they make it to a theater near you:

Black Butterflies – This narrative feature by Dutch filmmaker Paula van der Oest earned her star Carise van Houten the Best Actress award for her portrayal of South African poet Ingrid Jonker.

 Carol Channing: Larger than Life – Helmed by director Dori Berinstein, this loving documentary features Broadway legend Carol Channing describing her incredible life in her own words.

Higher Ground – Actress Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut is an emotional portrait of a woman struggling to reconcile her feminism with her faith in a religious community in the 1960s and ’70s.

The Loving Story – Documentarian Nancy Buirski recounts the struggle of Mildred and Richard Loving, the interracial couple who took their fight to live as man and wife in Virginia all the way to the Supreme Court in 1967.

Maria My Love – Judy Marte (of Raising Victor Vargas) and Karen Black star in this narrative by writer/director Jasmine McGlade Chazelle about two very different women who adopt each other as chosen family after tensions drive them away from their biological relatives.

[Emily Rems]

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