Strong women take center stage in Tribeca foreign films

Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:29pm EDT
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By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As women increasingly press for greater equality in countries around the world, filmmakers are breaking barriers too, making their female protagonists as strong and varied as the characters they meet in everyday life.

New York's Tribeca Film Festival, which draws to a close this weekend, has shown its spotlight on several foreign-made movies that feature strong women roles, from the Israeli military drama "Room 514" to Mexican border thriller "The Girl."

"In Israeli films, I found that women's parts are always prostitutes or some secondhand old woman nobody wants. I said, ‘What's going on?,' Sharon Bar-Ziv, director of "Room 514" told Reuters. "This is not reality. We have F-16 pilots who are young women. In the Supreme Court and everywhere, women are strong."

He said that simple fact of life made him want to create a female protagonist that was more in line with reality.

"Room 514" has drawn comparisons to 1992 Hollywood drama "A Few Good Men," which starred Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore and told of U.S. marines accused of murder and the attorney who defended them.

Yet the focus of "Room 514" is on a lone woman, Anna. She is a military investigator who takes the case of a celebrated soldier accused of brutality against a Palestinian civilian, and she relentlessly digs for the truth despite attempts by her male colleagues to thwart her efforts.

"She's brave, she's strong, determined, independent ... In a mainly male area - an army male area - she's moving forward with her loyalty to her morals," Bar-Ziv said.

The Canadian-Congolese co-production "War Witch," which took home Tribeca's best feature film award as well as the best actress award, also features a strong female lead played by Rachel Mwanza.   Continued...

Actress Abbie Cornish arrives for the world premiere of "Limitless" in New York March 8, 2011. The movie opens in the U.S. on March 18. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid