Founded in 2014, the Berlin Feminist Film Week is a film festival dedicated to exploring different feminist topics through the medium of film:

We have made it into our mission to challenge patriarchal storytelling and put forward characters that stand out from the hegemony of white cis-men. Female, queer non-binary, trans and PoC characters are often left playing and acting as supporters in the film industry and the development towards equal representation is slow. We want to create a platform for those who make films that do not fit into the Hollywood norm and for the cinema-goers who do not feel represented in the images reproduced by mainstream cinema.

Here are just some of the incredible films that will be screening during the festival*:


In Between / Maysaloun Hamoud / France/Israel / 2016 / 96 min / Arab & Hebrew with English subtitles (German premiere)

Director Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between circles around three Palestinian women sharing an apartment in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv find themselves being caught in the daily duality between hometown tradition and big city abandon, and the price they must pay for a lifestyle that seems obvious to many: the freedom to work, party, fuck, and choose. .

If you’re an Arab woman in Israel, you’re never really considered Israeli enough but is part of a culture that isn’t Palestinian enough either. Lalia (Mouna Hawa), Salma (Sana Jammelieh), and Nur (Shaden Kanboura) share an apartment in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv. Lalia, a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, loves to burn off her workday stress in the underground club scene. Salma, slightly more subdued, is a lesbian DJ and bartender. Nur is a younger, religious Muslim girl who moves into the apartment in order to study at the university.

Nur is both intrigued and intimidated by her two sophisticated roommates. When her conservative fiancé visits, he is horrified by her secular friends, entreating her to hasten their marriage, leave Tel Aviv, and assume her rightful role as a wife. She refuses, and his violent rebuttal leaves all of the women shaken. Salma and Lalia also face turmoil: Lalia has found love with a modern Muslim man whose acceptance proves less than unconditional, and Salma discovers that her Christian family in a northern Galilean village is not as liberal as they claim.

These three very different women find themselves doing the same balancing act between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, fealty and freedom. Caught between the rock of sexism and the hard place of racism, they live neither here nor there, and go through a bittersweet journey wherein there’s no looking back, but the future is far from certain.

Maysaloun Hamoud was born in Budapest and raised in Dir-Hana, Israel. She completed a BA in Middle Eastern history at Hebrew University and studied film at Minshar School of Art. She directed the short films Shades of Light (2009), Sense of Morning (2010), and Salma (2012).


Strolling / Cecile Emeke / UK / 2017 / 50 min + discussion with Cecile Emeke and guests from Berlin

British filmmaker Cecile Emeke explores the untold and scattered narratives of the Black/African diaspora in Europe and the US in her series Strolling. Emeke will come to this year’s Berlin Feminist Film Week to present Strolling and engage in a conversation around her work with local guests.

‘Strolling’ is a short documentary film series created by Cecile Emeke where we take a stroll with people in various cities and countries around the world, having refreshingly raw and honest conversations about various issues at the forefront of their society. The series touch on everything from feminism, sexuality, gender, race and politics to philosophy, art, history, capitalism, war and poverty… and everything else you can think of.

Cecile Emeke is a director, writer and artist from London. cecile is most widely known for the global online documentary series ‘strolling’ and the short film turned series ‘ackee & saltfish’. Cecile has had much critical success having her work featured by press worldwide from The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, BBC, i-D, Dazed, Ebony, Essence, Fader and Shadow & Act to name but a few. Cecile has spoken and showcased her work at various cultural and academic institutions including Oxford University, Cambridge University, LSE, Kings College, SOAS, Southbank Centre and The Brooklyn Museum. Her work has been featured in numerous festivals worldwide from No Gloss Film Festival, The Busseywood Film Festival, The BFI London Film Festival, The Tribeca Film Festival, The American Black Film Festival, Urban World Film Festival, The Blackstar Film Festival and The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival. She was also selected as one of Broadcast Magazine’s 2015 Hot Shots and was the recipient of the 2015 Screennation Digital Vanguard Award.



Hooligan Sparrow / Nanfu Wang / China/USA / 2016 / 84 min

The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.

Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.

Nanfu Wang is an independent filmmaker based in New York City. Wang was born in a remote farming village in Jiangxi Province, China. Realizing that she wanted to help tell the stories of people who came from backgrounds like hers, Wang decided to pursue graduate film studies, first in the journalism school at Ohio University and later at New York University’s documentary program. ” Hooligan Sparrow ” is her feature debut. (Press materials)


The Love Witch / Anna Biller / USA / 120 min

Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, leaving her with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder. With a visual style that pays tribute to Technicolor thrillers of the ‘60s, THE LOVE WITCH explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism.

Anna Biller ’s 35mm cult feature VIVA and her 16mm art-film shorts have screened at major film festivals and art spaces around the world, and her work has been discussed in academic cinema journals. She is known for her use of classic and outdated film genres to talk about female roles within culture, coding feminist ideas within cinematic aesthetics and visual pleasure. She creates all of her own costumes and set designs, making many or the props and paintings as well as composing and scoring for her films. She has a BA in art from UCLA, and an MFA in art and film from CalArts. She continues to work on film because of her interest in emulating the look and feel of classic cinema, and her latest film, THE LOVE WITCH, was made using only traditional film processes.


Fragility /Ahang Bashi / Sweden / 2016 / 73 min (+ Q&A with filmmaker Ahang Bashi)

In the peak of her career documentary filmmaker Ahang Bashi falls down in a deep gorge of panic attacks and depression. With a skin deep precision, beautiful imagery and a black humor she carries the viewer into the swirling world of anxiety, sometimes dark and sometimes hopeful. With the camera as her tool she brings us back in time to the escape from Iran and the little girl who did not understand.

Fragility is a film about living with anxiety and panic attacks, Bashi films herself in her very darkest moments and anyone who wants to begin to understand what panic attacks do to you should see this film. People with panic attacks and anxiety quickly get passed a diagnosis, but is it really them or the society we live in that is sick? The documentary also questions the trauma of fleeing to another country and never dealing with the experiences as well as the “good girl” phenomena.

Filmmaker Ahang Bashi will be present for a Q&A after the screening.

Ahang Bashi was born in 1984 in Shiraz, Iran, and moved to Sweden with her family when she was three years old. She now lives and works in Stockholm. Ahang studied social anthropology at Dalarna University before she discovered documentary filmmaking. In 2011 she graduated from the documentary filmmaking program at Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she during her studies directed the award-winning Paradiset (Paradise). Her first feature length documentary Fragility

(2016) won her the prize for Newcomer of the year at Guldbaggegalan 2017, Best Swedish Feature – The City Of Gothenburg Award at GFF 2017 and the Mai Zetterling Grant during the same festival.
For Ahang filmmaking is a way to make personal issues political, and her films often concern issues of identity, alienation, migration and love. Her personally told documentaries cut straight through the heart at the same time as the often present tragicomical elements makes the audience laugh. Currently Ahang is working on her first fiction feature The Gods (working title) based on a book by Elin Cullhed.

Ahang Bashi is available for interviews on March 9th.


No Kids for Me, Thanks / Magenta Baribeau / Canada / 2016 / 74 min (+ Q&A with filmmaker)

This DIY author documentary at the crossroads between an anthropological essay and a personal quest delves into the reality of Western women who’ve decided not to have children. The filmmaker traveled to France, Belgium and across Québec (Canada) to meet with childfree women, aged 30 to 70, in order to understand their life choices. No Kids for Me, Thanks! explores common myths about childfree women as well as the insidious pronatalist social pressure that operates in Western society by giving a voice to a segment of the population that is rarely heard and that remains somewhat foreign to their peers. This documentary addresses more than the issue of nonmotherhood and examines the role of women in society in 2015.

This documentary takes a look at choice, expectations and the societal pressures of having children. Last year, Israeli sociologist Orna Dornath’s book Regretting Motherhood, about mothers who regretted becoming one, caused heated debates in many countries including Germany. The topic may be controversial as it questions the joy of motherhood? In this film we will have a look at how these attitudes look among Western women in Canada and France. Filmmaker Magenta Baribeau will be present after the screening for a Q&A and discussion with the audience.

Magenta Baribeau is available for interviews from March 8th.


Ovarian Psycos / Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-LaValle / USA / 2016 / 75 min (screened with Cycologic)

Riding at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color. The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence.


Cycologic / Emilia Stålhammar & Veronica Pålsson & Elsa Lövdin / Sweden/Uganda / 2016 / 15 min (screened with Ovarian Psycos)

When one’s traveling the streets of Kampala one does not only face a chaotic and dangerous traffic environment but also struggles to go through endless queues, pollution, motorcyclists and cars attacking you from every angle which is an energy-consuming dilemma.

Politicians seems to have given up but there are a few people who strives to show that there are alternative ways of movements. The urban planner and the passionate cycling advocate Amanda Ngabirano’s biggest dream is to have a cycling lane in her city.

An impossible task, according to most people, but not according to Amanda.


Below Her Mouth / April Mullen / Canada 2015 / 92 min

One of the boldest and sexiest dramas of the year, April Mullen’s Below Her Mouth tells the story of an unexpected romance between two women whose passionate connection changes their lives forever.

Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a successful fashion editor living with her fiancé, Rile (Sebastian Pigott). On a night out in the city with her best friend, she meets Dallas (Erika Linder), a roofer recently out of a relationship. Jasmine is taken by surprise when Dallas confidently hits on her; she turns Dallas down, but can’t get her out of her head. Dallas continues her cool, self-assured advances. In a matter of days, Jasmine succumbs and the two women embark on a steamy affair. It feels like a fantasy world compared to Jasmine’s life and plans with Rile, but soon reality rears its head, and she will have to face the profound changes their sudden romance has wrought in her.

Below Her Mouth is a rarity in more than one way: it’s a fiction film shot with an entirely female crew, and it’s an uncommonly frank look at the all-encompassing nature of attraction — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the transcendendent.

*Information courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week
For the full program, please click here.
Image courtesy of Berlin Feminist Film Week

Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.