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First day of European Film Festival amplifies voice of women directors

By Hanna Davis - Sep 13,2021 - Last updated at Sep 14,2021

AMMAN — The 33rd edition of the European Film Festival (EUFF) kicked off on Sunday with a workshop on female representation in the film industry, followed by the virtual showing of “Rocks”, a British film by Sarah Gavron. 

The festival, which runs until September 22, will feature 21 European award-winning productions and critically acclaimed participating films on the festival’s website: www.euffjordan.com, according to a statement sent to The Jordan Times. 

The EUFF is held under the patronage of HRH Princess Rym, funded by the European Union (EU) Delegation in Jordan and organised by EUNIC Jordan. It is held in partnership with the Royal Film Commission and the Greater Amman Municipality. 

The festival will host a series of workshops with participating film directors and film industry professionals. The workshops are free of charge and will be live on the EUFF’s Facebook page. 

“We are aiming to bring in directors from the festival, so they can hold workshops and help the filmmaking industry in Jordan,” Waleed Abu Gharbieh, the EUNIC’s events and communications officer, told The Jordan Times. 

The EUFF will host the first ever Novel Adaption workshop in the Middle East. Over the course of five weeks, the workshop will provide professional film script writers in Jordan with strategies and skills to create screenplays based on novels, according to Abu Gharbieh and the EUNIC statement. 

The workshop will be held in-person in Amman, said Abu Gharbieh.

The EUFF’s first workshop on Sunday night hosted a discussion with five renowned women film directors, producers and curators: Areeb Zuaiter, Sarah Gavron, Joanna Duncombe, Elhum Shakerifar and Asma Beseiso.

During the workshop, Gavron spoke of how, during over 20 years in the film industry, she has been made “very aware” that she is not just a filmmaker, but a “woman filmmaker”. 

When Gavron began her career, she was inspired by the international and British women filmmakers, but, “there weren’t many of them… I was very self-conscious and aware that the crews were male. I would go to festivals and be the only woman in the room”. 

In her film “Rocks”, Gavron deliberately selected a 75 per cent female crew, so the team of young actors could be surrounded by more women in film, according to the Facebook page.

Shakerifar said in the workshop that: “People who haven’t met me, kind of assume I must be a man… because I’m a producer”. 

Zuiater, the head of the film programming department at the Amman International Film Festival, also responded to the stereotypes against women in the film industry.

“There’s something that still bugs me, in a way. That is stereotyping women. There are certain roles that are designated for woman and certain roles that are designated for men, such as the ‘cameraman’,” she said. 

Even amidst stereotypes, Zuiater cited the great progress women have made in the film industry. In the recent Amman International Film Festival, the number of women who received awards surpassed the men, she said. 

The EUFF, Jordan’s longest-running foreign film festival, aims to facilitate the interchange of filmmaking knowledge between countries and support the international film community, the statement said. 

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