Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival 2000

The 12th Cineffable Film Festival recently held in Paris from November 1-5 2000 is a pageant of international work by lesbian filmmakers. 70 films were shown this year in the categories of feature film, shorts, documentaries and experimental film. This is a woman only space where it is possible to experience state of the art themes in lesbian iconography. Over 100 volunteers make the festival happen which is held at the on the outskirts of Paris. This year's festival was kicked off with a brilliant performance by Myriam Sultan, an Algerian born vocalist from Marseille.

Cineffable selects films from all over the world making sure that there is no monopoly of films from 'Aunt Sam' and this year 17 countries were represented. Here new and innovative work is showcased on current trends that concern lesbians. The venues this year profiled films within themes such as 'feminism and me', women warriors, fantasy, desire without frontiers, family affairs, and action. Debates after screenings took up issues such as safe sex, lesbian couples in art, and a discussion on a new lesbian organization with a large cultural space outside Paris: La Barbare or 'The Barbarians'.

Much of the work this year had an innovative style including grainy textures, slow motion of frozen frames and non-linear fragmentary narration.

Sum Total by Sonali of India, is a five-minute self portrait of a Indian lesbian who adds, subtracts and multiplies to come up with an identity, which- 'sums her up'.

In Reservaat by Rene Schoulten and Clara Van Gool from the Netherlands, two women dressed in fur dance in the woods surrounded by a motorway. Only the sounds of automobiles or the surfacing of a fox from its hole break their enclosed space.

Alice's Smile by Laurence Rebouillon, is an exceptional experimental film involving layers of memories in the form of events of a woman's life: past lovers, family photographs and anecdotes on their significance. Reboullion often uses an innovative style of filming upside down, recalling the reflections of objects on bodies of water. Two previous films by the filmmaker have been shown at Cineffable , one of which won the public prize.

As usual it is easy to know what the public likes. Canadian Dana McLeoud's How to Fake an Organism -- a humorous instructional comedy of facial expressions and breathing techniques, as well as catch phrases on the subject received enthusiastic appreciation.

The digital 'mockumentary ' film work of San Franciscan based Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano ( also members of a band called The Hail Mary's that have played at the Berlin Film Festival)-- How to Fuck in High Heels received an overwhelming 'boo' from the audience, many of which walked out. Rednour in one of her more hilarious comments compared their works to the John Cassavettes/Gena Rowlands film marriage, one of many outrageous claims that hit and missed with the Cineffable public. Is there a female gaze in lesbian pornography? Perhaps, although very few women had the patience or interest to find out. Festival organizers claimed the film was shown because more and more dyke porr entries are being sent in, reflecting trends in the sapphic film world.

The three features of the festival this year were Alexandra von Grote's 1978 classic of two women in love during German occupied France, Novembermond , Jamie Babbit's But I'm a Cheerleader and Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge and Anne Heche'sIf These Walls Could Talk 2 --which won the public prize for best feature. ( But if history could be rewritten heads would roll about the Heche/Degeneres romance that fizzled after the project when Ann fell in love with the cameraman.)

Other awards included best short fiction film which went to Entrevue by Marie-Pierre Huster of France. In this film 25 year old Alix who is supposed to be seducing a wine director during a job interview later winds up with his wife.

Best short documentary went to Charlotte Metcalfe of the UK for School Girl Killer concerning the true story of a 14 year old Ethiopian girl who was abducted, beaten and raped and who later killed her assailant.

Best documentary was awarded to Debout by Carole Roussopoulos of France, who chronicles the history of the women's movement since the 1970's. Another documentary on this subject came from Canada, My Feminism by Dominique Cardena and Laurie Colbert who explore the value of feminism in today's right wing era.

Cel, a Marseille Lesbian group also honored School Girl Killers and Entrevue. The French magazine Lesbia gave first prize to the UK duo Samantha Bakhurst and Lea Morement for an hilarious short called which was presented at Cannes this year. Trouble arises when a one-night stand disrupts the life of a female politician. Honorable mention went to Below the Belt by Canadian Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert for a tale of two 17-year old women boxers who fall in love. Entrevue for the third time won distinction from the magazine. Finally, Cineffable staff member Anna Nemanic won the festival competition of 10,000 FF to develop her film script, sent in under a pseudonym.

Next year's festival entries must be submitted by May. Contact"Cineffable" :