Melbourne Women in Film Festival 2023

Returning for its seventh year, the Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF) is brimming with some amazing content surrounding the theme of “Connections”. Screening exclusively at ACMI this February 23 to 27 there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Opening Night was the night of nights with some exciting news the festival has received funding from the Victorian Government for another two years. Special guest Shantae Barnes-Cowan, the lead actress of Sweet As, gave a quick introduction to the audience before it screened. Shantae also happened to mention it was being screened at the Berlin Film Festival, which is a success.

Sweet As is wonderful coming-of-age story filled with grief and sorrow. It comes from First Nations Director Jub Clerc and her story of a time her family weren’t able to support her. The story follows Murra, an indigenous girl with a troubled mother. When things get out of hand her Policeman Uncle sends her to a camera workshop through the outback of Western Australia.

Filled with stunning scenery the group of misfit teenagers work through their own individual issues. Ultimately finding comfort with their new life long friends they are able to grow and find their purpose to take on the world. Not only that, they have a photo diary of the amazing summer.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Connections”. Showcasing Australian, Aotearoa New Zealand and Pasifika women and gender diverse stories exploring global and local collaboration and community. It’s a wonderful theme and very much seen through the Festival Director, Sian Mitchell’s selection for the festival.

The festival will also host a number of panel talks and discussions along with a great selection of short films. Freshly Squeezed Shorts, Reel Shorts (documentaries) and Next Gen shorts.

Reel Shorts will be screened on Saturday 25 February from 12:30pm. It plays host to a collection of captivating and uplifting documentaries that delve into true stories from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Moana. From intimate portraits of artists and sports icons to intercultural and intergenerational connections, these films offer diverse perspectives of the world around us.

Next Gen Shorts also on Saturday 25 February. From 4pm this group of short films will showcase the creativity and talent of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand’s next generation of filmmakers. From how to grow prize winning onions to rekindling connections with family, this diverse program of films illustrates that the future of women’s and gender diverse filmmaking looks bright.

Finally in the short film categories, Freshly Squeezed Shorts screening on Sunday 26 February from 4pm will showcase the latest and best short films and web series exploring diverse stories of human connection. Expect dystopian futures, hopeful romantics and unlikely friendships.

Excitingly the festival will screen the Australian premiere of SHIT. Yes you read that right, SHIT. From the play by multi-award winning writer Patricia Cornelius, SHIT will be screened on Saturday Feb 25. SHIT is a psychological drama which unfolds over one long night of

incarceration in a bleak holding cell. Caged for hours on end, Billy, Bobby and Sam reveal their stories of a lifetime of violence, abuse and institutionalisation. Told with unsentimental, sometimes comical, often gut-wrenching insight. SHIT is directed by Susie Dee and co-produced by Trudy Hellier. Stay tuned for the review.

Other program highlights include the Closing Night event. A screening of Kāinga which debuted at New Zealand International Film Festival in 2022. It features eight Pan-Asian Women female filmmakers’ powerful anthologies. Illuminating the immigrant experience in Aotearoa, New Zealand through the lives of eight Asian women connected by the house they have all called home during different generations.

Novastream is proud to support this Melbourne institution and congratulate all the women and gender diverse filmmakers in front of the camera and behind for an amazing festival. The festival is underway and runs until Monday Feb 27 exclusively at ACMI. For a full list and to get yourself a ticket head to acmi.net.au and for all festival information head to the MWFF website at mwff.org.au.

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