Female Forward
Women filmmakers in the Mediterranean, rising values

A new perspective that is increasingly gaining in prominence
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Frame of the film "La Colina Donde Rugen las Leonas", of Director Luana Bajrami.

© Luana Bajrami

The Mediterranean is a diverse and plural space, where numerous cultures, traditions and sensibilities converge, as disparate as their respective origins, but at the same time, with abundant similarities.

In the same way that we can speak of a Mediterranean literature with recurring themes, we can also find certain constants in the filmography with a Mediterranean stamp that define a large part of the audiovisual production: inequalities, migrations, political and social conflicts, the search for roots, the hope for a better world... In short, the concerns of the citizens of the Mediterranean and which the cinema reflects as a showcase of our daily lives.

But if, in addition, the person behind the camera is a woman, we find a different point of view, neither better nor worse, simply different from the traditional and more widespread approaches until recently. A point of view that is becoming more and more important not only on the billboards but also on the lists of winners at the most prestigious international festivals.

Because Mediterranean women filmmakers are coming on strong and are a reflection of the evolution of our society. They are highly educated, university-educated, cosmopolitan, bilingual professionals, some of them based in countries other than the one they were born in, but with a great interest in showing what is happening in them and, above all, with a growing weight in the film industry.

We are referring to cases such as that of the Moroccan Maryam Touzani, a documentary filmmaker, actress, screenwriter and director who won over critics and audiences with her first feature film Adam and whose latest work, The Blue Caftan, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

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"El Caftan Azul", Maruam Touzani film director.

© Maruam Touzani

Alongside her, the list of Mediterranean directors worth keeping an eye on includes names such as the Franco-Moroccan Sofia Alaoui, the Greek Athina Rachel Tsangari, the French Claire Denis, Luàna Bajrami, and Mia Hansen-Løve, the Algerian Bahia Bencheikh El Fegoun, the Moroccan Laïla Marrakchi, the French-based Italian Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and the Egyptians Hala Khalil and Amal Ramsis, among many others.

Without forgetting the Spaniards Carla Simón, winner at the Berlinale with Alcarràs, Pilar Palomero, Carol Rodríguez, Celia Rico or some more veteran directors such as Isabel Coixet.

And this is if we look exclusively at filmmaking, but we are also finding more and more female names in other fields. It is true that there is still a long way to go, but they are making steady progress in fields such as soundtrack composition, editing, photography, animation, make-up and production management, such as Manuela Ocón from Huelva, winner at the last Goya Awards for her work in Modelo 77.

Manuela Ocón was one of the guests at the Meeting 'Women filmmakers from both shores: Morocco-Andalusia' on 20 and 21 March, organised by the Three Cultures Foundation of the Mediterranean, an institution which I have the privilege of directing.

This forum brought together some twenty Andalusian and Moroccan women linked to the sector from different perspectives. Actresses, scriptwriters, directors, producers, researchers, writers, cultural managers and even festival directors shared two days of analysis, reflection and debate in which it became clear how much filmmakers from both shores of the Mediterranean have in common, as well as establishing synergies and collaborations for the future.

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Meeting on female filmmakers of the Mediterranean at Three Cultures Foundation

© Three Cultures Foundation

In addition, films directed by some of the participants were screened and exchanges between them were encouraged. All in all, both speakers and attendees agreed on the importance of forums such as this one to encourage rapprochement between those who have turned their passion for storytelling into their livelihood.

This is the spirit that guides the actions of the Three Cultures Foundation: to promote knowledge, to learn from the experience of others, to respect what we consider different and to appreciate all that it brings us. In other words: dialogue in order to share, and sharing in order to live together.

That is why we will continue to promote actions like this one, which contribute to showcasing these cinematographies, as we already do in our 'Film Tuesdays', where Mediterranean women filmmakers also have a prominent place.

Thus, in the different cycles that we programme every month (with free sessions every Tuesday at 20.30) there is room for all those quality films that deal with the theme selected for the month in question, most of them far from the commercial circuits, and for which our splendid screening room with more than 200 seats is the best (and sometimes the only) way to reach the public.

Many of these feature films, shorts and documentaries are the work of Mediterranean women directors. But, in addition to our usual billboards, we have a cycle dedicated only to the productions of these directors in the month of March, since the 8th of this month is International Women's Day.

From the Three Cultures Foundation we support the work of Mediterranean filmmakers, as well as that of all the creators who develop their work in this wonderful common space that welcomes us and makes us understand the world in a diverse, plural and supportive way.