Créteil 2002 Report

Report from Créteil Festival 2002 After 24 years of existence, the Créteil International Film Festival still lives up to its promise of showcasing new work by talented women directors as well as acknowledging the achievements of veterans. The profile this year on 'Latina' film was excellent, offering the public a chance to see new directions in themes and filmic conditions from the New Worlds of Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay-- and the Old World of Spain. Showcasing a panorama of films from a particular area of the world is the hallmark of the Créteil pageant that involves meticulous research and planning as well as coordination with governments and agencies of the featured countries. Work by women pioneers, veterans and new filmmakers were screened and after coming away from the festival its is clear that one's orientation and perception of Latina film has been altered through a deep acquaintance afforded by the experience of over 40 films.

Several films this year chronicle how the global conditions of women are still intolerable such as Lourdes Portillo's documentary from Mexico Senorita Extraviada about the murder of over 200 women in Juarez, Mexico. Here the sweatshops of globalization have cropped up and thrive through the efforts of young women working at maquiladoras, factories set up for cheap labor. Portillo presents the links between this exploitation and the senseless waste of human life in a conspiracy of drug trafficking and police corruption, all symptoms of the spread of the maquiladoras. The Créteil public obviously chose the film as best documentary for the evidence that women's lives are still targets for genocide.

On another note, Lucia Murat's Brava Gente Brasilia hearkens back to the time of the conquistadors in Brazil who raped and plundered the New World. The atrocities committed against women and the eradication of the indigenous cultures is a cruel testimony to the forces that impacted the development of Latin America.

Women's film is also characterized by skillful documentaries that appraise the role of women in society. Hastrid Hadad, La Tequilera by Aurélie Sémichon and Pierre Favre of France was winner of the Association of Women's Journalists prize for best documentary, a chronicle of a woman who emulates the mythical archetypes and idiosyncrasies of the female sex in powerful performance artistry.

This year the public attendance at Creteil was at an all time low, despite the number of quality films. But the public got what it wanted and searches for each year: a powerful film by Cheryl Dunye about incarcerated women, which captured the Créteil heart and soul. There is usually a conflict between the film selected by the public and the international jury, but this year the latter decreed Stranger Inside as worthy of special mention. And it was clear that jury deliberations were long regarding the selection of the best film, which finally went to Mostly Martha Sandra Nettelbeck of Germany.

There were several explanations advanced to why the festival this year was not well attended. First one can not rule out the effects on air travel since September 11, secondly the number of films which deal with feminist issues seem to be on the decline as are women willing to call themselves as 'woman filmmakers'. Attending a 'ghettoized festival' which shows almost exclusive non-mainstream films by women may not draw the crowds from the Paris center to the 40 minute Metro ride required to reach Créteil. But it is clear from year to year that every festival is unique and rich with opportunities to witness global filmmaking by women, which is not on the decline. This year's special guest, Nathalie Baye added to this richness, an actress of superb integrity and talent, which the retrospective of her films confirmed.

Moira Sullivan

Email: Cinéfemme