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The Beeston Film Festival: Highlighting the Truths of Womanhood in Film

Emma Burnett

Wednesday, 8 May 2024

A synopsis of my favourite short films from the Women's Voices sections at The Beeston Film Festival

From Non-fiction, to Drama, Comedy, and Horror, the Beeston Film Festival truly has it all. But the category that truly stood out to me was Women’s Voices. There were three separate sections within it: ‘Bonds’, ‘Boundaries’ and ‘Needs’, each celebrating a wide array of female talent.


What I found so moving about each of these films was the truth within their stories. Seeing my peers’ and my own real experiences of womanhood validated on screen was so affecting. The cinematic portrayals of female relationships were so poignant, each in their own ways. Whether it was sisterhood, female friendships or mother-daughter bonds; the emotional connections portrayed were so incredibly precious. I left the cinema each time feeling  grateful to be a woman. Let me take you through my favourite films of these sections.


1) Best Dressed (UK)

Best Dressed pleasantly surprised me. Starring Normal People’s Eliot Salt, it began with two sisters, who are separately yet simultaneously stuck in the sort of limbo you find yourself in right before an event you don’t really want to attend. The event in question, we find out later, is their mother’s wake. Allie, the older sibling, finds herself outside with her best friend, stalling, despite the pouring rain. Meanwhile, Sarah, her younger sister, is tearing up her room searching for the right outfit for the occasion. The pair finally collide on the stairs, once Allie cannot procrastinate any longer, and Sarah has exhausted every option in her wardrobe. This is the point in which it becomes clear that the two have been preparing for a wake, as Allie greets Sarah with a ‘what the f***?’ upon finding the thirteen-year-old dressed in a floral halter top and white mini skirt. Best Dressed won me over here – the sisterly interaction was hysterically accurate. The dialogue in the film is consistently light-hearted, perfectly juxtaposing the setting of the film to convey how surreal these tragic situations can be.


2) Roped (Spain)

I never imagined that an animated film could stir such powerful emotions within me. Roped is simultaneously devasting and heartening. It visualizes the beauty of the relationship between a mother and daughter through the most vibrant and gorgeous animations. ‘Roped’ together by an eternal bond, they are inseparable. Even when the daughter moves out, the mother stays by her side, represented by an omnipresent, helpful pair of hands. The film portrays the cyclical structure of the mother-daughter relationship:  when the daughter becomes a parent, she finally understands the galaxy worth of love her own mother has for her. Perhaps I have just been away from home for too long, but this film made me absolutely sob.


3) My Week with Maisy (UK)

My Week with Maisy is a precious film. When the uptight Mrs. Foster (Joanna Lumley) finds herself in a chemo-therapy treatment room with the ball of joy that is Maisy (Ellie-Mai Siame), at first she is cold and rather callous. It doesn’t take long, however, until Maisy has chipped away at Mrs. Foster’s hard exterior and opened up her heart. The interactions between the pair are often surprising: my favourite moment being Maisy’s declaration of her lesbianism to the very much conservative Mrs. Foster. The film is built on juxtapositions, reflected even in the pink and blue colour scheme, which adds to the vibrancy of the film. What may at first appear to be a slightly cliché story of young and old, My Week with Maisy is well-executed and a truly heart-warming watch.


4) Ceres (UK)

Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility, and motherly relationships. The myth of Ceres, who attempts to save her daughter Proserpina from  Hades parallels the story told in this film, that’s where the title came from. Set in Norfolk, the mother (Juliet Stevenson) lives off the land, her life of solitude disrupted by the return of her daughter (Hannah Morrish). The mother yearns to save her daughter from the suffocation of her abusive relationship. The pair’s strained relationship is communicated very subtly through expression and gesture throughout the film. What I love about this film is how much it manages to say without words: conveying multitudes through just the movement of hands. Ceres approaches the incredibly difficult subject of domestic abuse with acute tenderness and subtilty.


5) The Sun is up and I Shall Live (Singapore)

The Sun is up and I Shall Live follows a chaotic day in the life of an eldest daughter who bears the impossible weight of responsibility left behind by her deceased parents. Juggling both her lively younger brother, and an often-confused grandma, Maple is the sole carer for her family. Regardless, she keeps up a brave face, even when her grandma’s mental decline lands her in some serious bother. Despite Maple’s hardships, the film is full of colour and genuinely wholesome. Eldest daughters keep the world moving, and it is touching to see that recognised on screen.


Celebrating women’s voices in film is so important. The Beeston Film Festival spotlights so many underrepresented voices, giving them the space to share their wonderful and unique stories. The festival taught me so much, truly widening my world view.

Map

About the Author

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Images provided by Beeston Film Festival.


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Barbara Dawson

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Lovely tasty dish. Try it you won’t be disappointed.

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Very tasty and cheap. I often have this for tea!

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BETTS

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Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?

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Niamh

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Such an interesting article!

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