Feminist classic: The Company of Strangers. Photograph: NFB Canada
Feminist classic: The Company of Strangers. Photograph: NFB Canada

This year’s London Feminist Film Festival (LFFF) opens today, showcasing films on a wide range of subjects and issues by women directors from across the world.

Fifteen films in total will be screened throughout the four-day festival, which is taking place at Dalston’s Rio Cinema as well as the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

Some of the themes covered include women in UK hip hop, children’s views on gender, sexual harassment in public space and Jewish feminism.

This Saturday there will be a screening of six short films and, on its final day, the festival will hold a ‘feminist classics session’. Each session will be followed by a panel discussion.

The festival begins this evening at the Rio with The Lady of Percussion, a film about a female drummer trying to make it in the male-dominated Cuban music industry. This is followed by Through the Lens of Hip Hop: UK Women. After the screening rapper Pariz-1, who features in the film, is set to perform.

Tomorrow (21 August) will see the UK premiere of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry by Mary Dore, a history of the “outrageous … brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971”, while Saturday’s screenings include the European premiere of It Happened Here.

This documentary follows the stark and disturbing prevalence of sexual assault on US university campuses. The film will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Jessica Horn, a women’s rights consultant and a founding member of the African Feminist Forum. All profits from this screening go to Rape Crisis England and Wales.

The final day of the LFFF kicks off with a matinee screening of But They Can’t Break Stones by Elena Dirstaru, which offers an insight into women’s rights in Nepal, and is preceded by a short by Maryam Tafakory about FGM.

At 4pm the festival will dig up a feminist classic: Cynthia Scott’s 1990 film The Company of Strangers. The film blends fiction, documentary and improvisation to track the (mis)adventures and of a bus-full of elderly women, stranded in the Canadian countryside. The film won Best Canadian Film at that year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

The festival finale that evening is another UK premiere, Esther Broner: A Weave of Women by Lilly Rivlin, which documents the evolution of Jewish feminism through a portrait of Esther Broner, founder of the first Feminist Passover Seder service in New York in the 1970s.

The LFFF’s director and founder Anna Read said of the festival:“There is still so much discrimination and oppression of women everywhere in the world – we screen films showing women fighting back and navigating a space for themselves and other women in this sexist world.

“We aim to show films which deal with the important issues of the day and which can inspire others to get involved in feminist activism in one way or another. So often we see a narrow, stereotypical misogynist view of women in films – LFFF prides itself on showing films with positive role models for women and girls. So, in essence, we’re trying to create a space for feminism and women filmmakers and to perhaps change the world just a tiny bit.”

The London Feminist Film Festival runs until 23 August at the Rio Cinema, Dalston and the Tricycle Cinema, Kilburn.

For the full programme and venues, see: http://londonfeministfilmfestival.com/lfff-2015-programme/

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