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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A feminist film festival for all


13th annual Davis Feminist Film Festival shakes up definition of “feminism”

Events like the 2017 Women’s March circulated a popular image: a sea of pink “pussy hats” and posters advocating reproductive health, equal pay and women’s rights. However, feminism is more than just a one-dimensional movement for gender equality — it fights for everyone. This year’s Davis Feminist Film Festival strives to show exactly that.

The DFFF raises awareness about topics regarding race, class, gender, sexuality and ableism to shift the idea that feminism is only for women.

Ariela Cuellar, a fourth-year communication major, emphasized that feminism needs to be intersectional and must include queer and trans people of color. Intersectionality, a term coined by feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, views categories such as race, class and gender as inseparable.

“My definition of feminism is definitely how it has to be intersectional and how it has to relate to different identities, not just women and female empowerment, which is what it’s usually defined as,” Cuellar said. “Learning from others and hearing their experiences is what helps me grow and understand feminism in general.”

Lindsay Baltus, an English Ph.D candidate and program director for the DFFF, wanted to create an event that not only fosters community, but also provides an inclusive space for underrepresented artists — particularly for women of color, who are often discriminated against in mainstream media.

“The first night’s themes are “beyond the binary” and “bodies and technology,” so we have films that talk about gender […] and to think about the relationship between gender and social issues in relation to technology and how our bodies relate to that,” Baltus said. “The second night we’re showing themes of nation, family, and community. Then we’re having a panel with two student filmmakers and a faculty respondent who will be talking about their films and the ideas behind their films and the process of making them.”

Each DFFF intern participated in an intensive curation process, repeatedly sorting through hours of films and eventually selecting only a handful to make it through. For many, elimination was the most difficult part.

Francesca Iacono, a first-year gender, sexuality and women’s studies and community and regional development double major, felt there were a number of films that were tough to let go.

“The hardest part was probably saying no to certain films. Some of them were so great and we were rooting for them so hard, but maybe there was one aspect that didn’t completely meet our mission,” Iacono said. “I feel like we did miss out on a few, but at the same time you need to make hard decisions for it to be the most successful version it could be.”

The group of DFFF interns was more than just a team full of strong, capable students. It was a family that learned from each other to best ensure that the upcoming event would be successful, inclusive and representative of their community.

When discussing feminism, Iacono believes it’s crucial to be aware of the privileges that we take for granted.

“It was a long process, almost two quarters worth of work right now, but we really needed that time,” Iacono said. “We had a few films regarding ableism and disability, especially from places outside the U.S., and just the fact that body politics in our society is very binary. There were a lot of films regarding that struggle, and a lot of them also put beauty in that struggle, showing there’s no right way to have a body and that you could choose what you want to do with it.”

After months of preparation, the event is finally drawing close, and Cuellar along with the rest of her team are overjoyed to see how everything will turn out.

“I love the lineup this year,” Cuellar said. “Every film we chose for this line up was very special, and I’m just looking forward to watching them one more time.”

The event will take place on May 10 and 11 at 5:30 p.m at the Veterans Memorial Center Theater. Tickets are available online at a $5-7 sliding scale donation.


Written by: Becky Lee — arts@theaggie.org


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