Toronto Film Festival 2011: The Women Directed Docs

by Melissa Silverstein
August 4, 2011 1:12 AM
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TIFF unveiled its doc program and I have to say there are not too many female directed films. Usually there are way more women directed docs in film festivals because there are way more docs made by women. This year, not so much.

In the Masters section, neither of the two films are directed by women. And on top of that neither the opening night gala and special presentation are directed by women.

In the Real to Reel Section only 4 films are directed or co-directed by women out of 23 films. That's 17%. Here they are:

Gerhard Richter Painting Corinna Belz, Germany
International Premiere
Gerhard Richter, one of the internationally most significant contemporary artists of our times, granted filmmaker Corinna Belz access to his studio in the spring and summer of 2009 where he was working on a series of large abstract paintings. In quiet, highly concentrated images, the film gives us a fly-on-the-wall perspective of a very personal, tension-filled process of artistic creation. In her intelligent and perceptive film, Corinna Belz brings us closer to the complex processes of artistic creation. Gerhard Richter Painting is the penetrating portrait of an artist at work – and a fascinating film about the art of seeing.

Girl Model Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, USA
World Premiere
Despite a lack of obvious similarities between Siberia and Tokyo, a thriving model industry connects these distant regions. Girl Model follows Ashley, a deeply ambivalent model scout who scours the Siberian countryside looking for fresh faces to send to the Japanese market, and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a 13-year-old plucked from the Siberian countryside and dropped into the center of Tokyo with promises of a profitable career. After Ashley’s initial discovery of Nadya, the two rarely meet again, but their stories are inextricably bound.

Last Call at the Oasis Jessica Yu, USA
World Premiere
We’re running out of water, and contaminating what's left. How long before the well runs dry? In unravelling this interconnected global crisis, Last Call at the Oasis focuses on the country with the largest water footprint – the United States – and explores why the threat hasn't hit home. Academy Award®-winning director Jessica Yu draws upon the research of scientists and enlists diverse voices ranging from the real Erin Brockovich, exemplifying feisty resistance, to actor Jack Black, supplying welcome comic relief.

Sarah Palin – You Betcha! Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, United Kingdom
World Premiere
Nick Broomfield's quest for the real Sarah Palin involves battling the icy snows of Alaska in mid-winter to speak to the school friends, family, and Republican colleagues that in previous days gave their heart, soul and belief to the charismatic, charming, intoxicating ex-hockey mom. But it's not all plain sailing. People are frightened to talk; Wasilla makes Twin Peaks look like a walk in the park. It's a devout evangelical community – 76 churches with a population of only 6 thousand, and the Crystal meth capital of Alaska. Broomfield brings his celebrated wit and determination to cracking her story.

Here's a film not directed by women but about women that I could be interested in seeing:
Dark Girls Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, USA
World Premiere
It seems beyond comprehension that a child would ask her mother to put bleach in the bathwater to lighten her skin. Yet this is a reality for many members of the African diaspora. For many black women – who, like all women, are often judged by their physical appearance – being dark-skinned becomes their defining characteristic. Actor/director Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry set out to examine why skin colour bias persists and how it affects the lives of women on the receiving end of it.
Festival Unveils Highly Anticipated World Premieres Of Documentaries From Werner Herzog, Morgan Spurlock, Jessica Yu, Nick Broomfield And More (TIFF)

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