..."It’s a time, where – see “Whale Rider” or “Rosenstrasse” - in many countries films made by women seem not to be anything special anymore and women film festivals therefore obsolete. We know, they are not and patriarchy still exists and shows it’s ugly teeth. I don’t think it is necessary to debate this. But I thought it was very interesting what Moira Sullivan told yesterday about the difficulties of women politics in a culture – Sweden - where gender equality has been officially declared as achieved. We know, that it is a difference that women’s films make also if not every film made by a woman makes a difference. And we need women’s film festivals more than ever if just for the reason that so many think of them as obsolete.
But an open space can also be a chance. And another possibility to react to the new situation could be to create new and different audience approaches. In this context I think we have to realise that the times of ever-growing audiences are definitely over and that this is perhaps not the worst thing to happen. And sometimes going on into the future may also mean to downsize in the present, not in professionalism and quality but in extension of films and times. Being small is not always a sign of weakness. Instead of sheer size we should focus more on intensity, on possibilities of visual, historical and social learning and on communication. "
But there is a more general aspect to the example of Sweden. I think one of the major inner problems women film festivals had to face in the nineties is the dissolving of feminist identity politics in gender and queer theory. I don’t want to talk here about the question how much sense this may theoretically make. But for practical feminist politics that development left behind an open space, that is not easy to fill. One solution to this can be to create new identification. This is what many lesbian film festivals do very successfully until today, even if sometimes their programmers try to avoid it. At Feminale in Cologne for example, in times where the rest of the festival suffered from audience losses and disinterest, the separate lesbian program was always packed.
Silvia Hallensleben, a German film journalist, at the meeting of the Working Group “Women and Film in Europe” during the 26th edition of Festival de Films des Femmes at Créteil/France in March 2004.