Women take the documentary helm at Tribeca fest

Fri May 2, 2008 5:35pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Simi Horwitz

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Documentaries are the perfect genre for women, says Sheila Johnson, who produced "A Powerful Noise," a portrait of female activists and one of dozens of female-helmed documentaries playing this year at New York's Tribeca Film Festival.

"We have stories out there that need to be told," she stresses. "And the time has come to tell them."

Nancy Schafer, co-executive director of the festival and senior vice president of Tribeca Enterprises, agrees, noting that there has been a proliferation of documentaries by women that have been accepted by the festival. Though the films cover a broad spectrum, from shorts to full-length features, a common theme is "the empowerment of women," Schafer says.

Besides "A Powerful Noise," there are "Lioness," "Gotta Dance," "Going on 13," "Marina of the Zabbaleen" and "Pray The Devil Back to Hell," which won the festival's award for best documentary feature. The film tells the story of a group of Liberian women who joined forces and stood up to the corrupt Charles Taylor regime during the country's violent civil war.

"It says something about all women who are tired of war, but need to have it at their doorsteps to do something about it," notes Abigail Disney, the film's producer. "Even though they were afraid of being beaten and killed, they were able to collaborate and appeal to soldiers with the moral authority of mothers."

Strength of character and determination also define the women of "A Powerful Noise," which depicts three extraordinary women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali and Vietnam who lead battles against poverty, oppression, and ignorance.


But perhaps the film that has the most resonance for American audiences is "Lioness," which recounts the stunning experiences of five women soldiers in Iraq who, despite Department of Defense policy banning women from direct combat, have been serving on the front lines since 2003.   Continued...

<p>Madonna (L) poses with co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, Jane Rosenthal, as they arrive for the premiere of the film "I Am Because We Are" during the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>