By Dr. Augusta Palmer and David Schoen ’20
SFC 2020 Women’s Film Festival-POSTER
Despite a coronavirus pandemic causing millions of people to stay sheltered indoors, the 5th Annual SFC Women’s Film Festival—and the first SFC Women’s Film Fest to be created by a class of 14 students teleconferencing in in from both coasts—successfully screened 44 films over five days on the web platform Zoom.
Karen Palmer, Keynote Speaker
The festival began on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, and screened films from 15 different countries followed by Q&As from filmmakers from Estonia, France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., which were moderated by Festival Director and Associate Professor Augusta Palmer, Ph.D., and a rotating group of student co-hosts, including David Schoen, Antonia D’Amato, Alyssa D’Angelo, and Gabriela Rivera.
On Saturday, April 18th, Gabriela Rivera ’21 and Sarah Innamorato ’20 opened the closing ceremony by speaking about the programming process and the difficulty of choosing only 44 out of the 286 films submitted based on their concept, cinematography, editing, story and sound.
“Working on the Programming Committee, I learned a lot. These films are very touching, and they raised awareness,” said Innamorato.
Palmer and seven student co-presenters then announced eight awards for student and professional filmmakers.
2020 Festival Winners:
- Best Professional Narrative Short: Killing Hope, dir. Natacha Grangeon and Julia Retali
- Best Student Narrative Short: The Romantic Movement, dir. Yuhe Lu
- Best Professional Documentary Short: Sensei Fran Kicks Ass, dir. Simone Fary
- Best Student Documentary Short: The “S” Word, dir. Mireille Sylvester
- Best Professional Animated Short: They Call Us Maids, created by Leeds Animation Workshop
- Best Student Animated Short: My Cat Story, dir. Allison Priest
- Best Experimental Short: Olympia, dir. Giulia Achenza
- Best Youth Short: A Walk Among the Stars, dir. Lani McHenry
Upon receiving her award, SFC senior Allison Priest singled out SFC Professor David Gewirtz in her acceptance speech, for inspiring her to create her film.
“It is an honor and an affirmation to have this film about an older woman resonate with a young audience,” said Maryland-based filmmaker Simone Fary, director of the Best Professional Documentary, Sensei Fran Kicks Ass.
At a screening earlier in the day, Fary said, “I want to make sure I thank the festival organizers for all your hard work making the festival and then pivoting to take it online in these uncertain times. It’s so important for us, as independent filmmakers, to have these kinds of venues.”
Women’s Film Festival Programming Committee Member Gabriella Mendonca not only moderated a talk with YouTube star Molly Burke on Tuesday about the experience of being blind makers working in a visual medium, but also opened and closed Saturday’s Awards Ceremony with riveting vocal performances.
The 5th annual Festival has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “We would like to congratulate and compliment […] the whole team on such a good organization of the online festival” said German filmmakers Anja Wutej and Masa Zia Lenárdic, directors of the film Not Your Ordinary Sister.
Follow @sfcwomensfilmfest on Instagram for a look back at this year’s festival and learn more about future events at SFCWomensFilmFest.com.