When selecting films for this year's festival, the film that had the most buzz from the women around us was Rubaiyat Hossain's Made in Bangladesh. We knew we had to bring this film, which examines the struggle for workers rights and women's rights in a garment industry where 80% of the workers are young women, to Wales.
"The backbone of Bangladesh’s economy is carried by young women," says Rubaiyat, who spent 3 years researching and meeting factory workers before beginning on the script. "I finally came across this woman named Daliya, who was a union leader. I felt she was courageous, strong, and articulate. She had been treated so badly, being in an abusive marriage, but she was longing for dignity. The women factory workers are very young, they’re mainly between 18 to 30. It is hard to find older factory workers as they develop back and shoulders problems, as a result of sitting on hard benches, bent over the sewing machines ten hours a day, six days a week for a hundred euros a month in the best case. But what I found fascinating is that, even with very little pay, difficult conditions at work, struggles against patriarchy at home, these women are empowered. Because one hundred years ago in Bangladesh, women could not even work, they had to live in seclusion. Today, they are working, they are making a living for themselves and their families, and they are fighting within the factory and at home for their rights."
The film is focussed around Shimu a 23 year old woman working in a clothing factory in Dhaka. Faced with difficult conditions at work, she decides to start a union with her co-workers: "The women factory workers have this young spirit that I tried to portray in the film. They have a real sense of camaraderie working together. It is a positive thing. In gender studies, we always say that as long as a woman is resisting and fighting, she will get somewhere. Generations before us had fought for education and voting rights for women, that is why we are here today: “we stand where we stand, because we stand on the shoulders of women who came before us" In my country, there is a long history of women’s rights organisations, trying to improve the conditions of women. Women are getting the knowledge of the unions through these human rights organizations. They are taught about the law."
The film should also raise our collective consciousness about cheap fashion: "The entire world should listen to stories like Shimu’s. As a consumer, you have to take your responsibilities: if you buy a pair of jeans for 20$, you must know someone had to work underpaid for these. But if you say I won’t buy any more clothes of this brand because I know they underpay their workers, that is exactly what the workers do NOT want. It is not a solution." says Rubaiyat.
Made in Bangladesh is the opening film of the 2020 WOW Film Festival at The Riverfront, Newport on March 7th in celebration of International Women's Day, before screening at The Waterfront Museum, Swansea, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Pontio, Bangor.
It has drawn the attention of women's support organisations WEN Wales, TUC Cymru, Women Connect First, the Swansea Refugee and Asylum Seeker's Women's Group, and BAWSO, who are collaborating with WOW to make the screenings accessible to women across Wales.
The 2020 edition of the WOW Film Festival will take place at venues across Wales from 7th March.
We're currently in the process of selecting the films, with some strong contenders.
Watch this space in the New Year for further news.
Open Call for short films from Wales
WOW "Wales One World" Film Festival is looking for short films from Wales to screen alongside festival features and at community and outreach events.
Have you made a film that you would like WOW to screen? We are keen to find films about life in Wales or beyond, including themes such as the environment, diversity, culture or global issues.
Galwad Agored am ffilmiau byr o Gymru
Mae Gŵyl Ffilm "Cymru a’r Byd yn Un" WOW yn chwilio am ffilmiau byr o Gymru i'w dangos ochr yn ochr â phrif ffilmiau’r ŵyl ac mewn digwyddiadau cymunedol ac allgymorth.
Ydych chi wedi gwneud ffilm yr hoffech i WOW ei dangos? Rydym yn awyddus i ddod o hyd i ffilmiau am fywyd yng Nghymru neu y tu hwnt, gan gynnwys themâu fel yr amgylchedd, amrywiaeth, diwylliant neu faterion byd-eang.
Here's our short film about a very enjoyable project working with Mencap Ceredigion to set up an animation club and create Abercon, Ceredigion's own inclusive anime convention.
Many thanks to Bethan Kench and family, Jake Whittaker, Hannah Rounding and all the particpants, businesses, volunteers and support!
Saturday 23 March 2019 brought Abercon, the first anime/comic convention to be held in Aberystwyth, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Bringing together approximately 300 people in a day filled with films, workshops and comic stalls, it was a partnership between MENCAP Ceredigion and WOW Film Festival.
Organised by Bethan Kench, Rhowan Alleyne and MENCAP Ceredigion, Abercon brought a day of anime themed activities and mischief for those attending.
Throughout the event, I was continuously struck by the the enthusiasm of visitors ranging from families with young children, to groups of students, to learning disabled people. Although a very diverse crowd, everyone was united by common interests and passions, with more than a few great costumes!
WOW connects Welsh communities with global issues through the powerful medium of film.
In recent years public funding for film festivals in Wales has become increasingly limited so we are appealing to our audiences for support.
Many of the films that we show are not in distribution in the UK so your only chance to see them is at WOW Film Festival. However this also means they are more expensive for us to bring to Wales.
The funds raised through this crowd funding campaign will go towards paying the screening fees for next year's festival. This will allow us to continue to bring you the kind of adventurous, eclectic range of films that you have enjoyed over the last 18 years.
Thanks to the generosity of one of our loyal supporters any donation you make, however small (or indeed large!) will be matched, doubling the value of your gift to the festival.
If you would like to donate, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/wow-film-festival-2020
I couldn't finish up today without a quick post to say thank you to everyone involved in making today's anime convention #abercon a roaring success! Bethan, Jan, Dylan, Roger, at Mencap Ceredigion plus numerous volunteers, Robin's Nest comic book store, Game Park who came with virtual reality headsets, Hannah and Gemma who came to run a drop in animation workshop throughout the day, and Ben Lake MP who cut short his visit to the Plaid Cymru conference just to join us. And especially all the cosplayers and the wonderful staff at Aberystwyth Arts Centre for accommodating us.
Here are a few pictures from the day. There will be more to follow!
Chatting to a friend recently about the wonderful Ida and the not-quite-so-good Cold War, she said to me “B&W films can seem more real than colour”, a thought-provoking observation about how authenticity doesn’t necessarily come from trying to slavishly reproduce the ‘real world’.
But how come B&W films can seem ‘more real’ than those shot in colour? I certainly find that B&W images often stay with me so clearly and are somehow much more memorable than colour ones.
For the second year running, WOW Film Festival has succeeded in curating a programme in which half the films are F-Rated, meaning that they are either directed or written by women. After 2018’s 50% F-Rated programme, I questioned whether we would be able to maintain that ratio in future years. But once again in 2019 women filmmakers continue to be prominent among the most striking and relevant voices in world cinema today.
Notable F-Rated films in WOW’s programme include Cathy Yen’s Dead Pigs (Sundance World Cinema Special Jury Prize) from China, Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage (Honourable Mention Best Film London Film Festival) from Colombia, Renée Nader Messora’s The Dead and the Others (Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival) from Brazil, Dominga Sotomayor’s Too Late to Die Young (Best Director Locarno International Film Festival) from Chile and Mouly Surya’s Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts (Winner Special Award Asia Pacific Film Festival) from Indonesia.
Today, to honour International Women’s Day I’d like to put the spotlight on two extraordinarily intimate documentaries that gained unprecedented access to women’s lives in Libya and Japan: Freedom Fields and Ama-san.
The 2019 WOW Film Festival trailer is here!
This year's festival has a global-rural theme, with a strong selection of South-American films, more than a hint of shamanism and our usual F-Rated focus - more than half the films in the programme are either directed or written by women!
We're also bringing Aberystwyth it's first comicon style convention, Abercon, a partnership event with Mencap Ceredigion, whose idea it was!
Tickets are now on sale too!