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!
In partnership with Winding Snake, the WOW Women's Film Club is organising a special workshop on Monday October 8th at City Campus, Newport.
History professor and author Angela John will be giving a history workshop and debate on the subject of the local history of women's rights.
With funding from the Welsh Government, like all Women's Film Club events, there will be a creche, and also on this occasion some lunch provided.
There are 20 spaces available, so it will be an intimate affair.
It will also be suitable for women learning English who have already reached a standard where they confident to speak English publicly.
We recently held our first Newport Women's Film Club, screening the heartwarming Saudi Arabian film Wadjda at the Riverfront arts centre.
Thank you to all the women who came along to enjoy the film, plus a big shout out to those at all the organisations who supported the event: Theresa from Redcross, Bronia from Welsh Refugee Council, Sarah from the office of Jessica Morden MP/Welsh Labour, Sarah from The Gap Centre, Roy from Sewrec, Marilyn from Coffee and Laughs, and Patience and AnaMaria from BAWSO.
The next Newport screening will be on July 17th - watch this space for announcements!
As regular followers of WOW may be aware, over the past few years the festival has grown it's focus on women and film, in relation to both the stories we share on screen, and the makeup of the audiences who come to see them. The WOW Women's Film Club was set up specifically to provide a safe space for women from all backgrounds and cultures to come together to experience some of the best women's stories from around the world.
We're about to hold our first Women's Film Club screening in Newport, Gwent later this month. At the planning stages we started having discussions about what imagery we might choose to attract women to the Film Club. We would usually choose a film still but this time we decided to try something a little different.
Florence Jackson is a young artist from west Wales whose work has a beautiful quality and often features women. We decided to commission Florence to come up with an illustration for the film club that would communicate the essence of what the film club is about.
Florence has very kindly written a few words about her work:
"My work is largely influenced by Eastern mythology philosophy, Folk Art and storytelling. I am wildly curious about the nature and identity of people and animals from all walks of life and the way in which they interact and coexist with their surroundings.
I initially studied fashion and textiles and have carried my love of rich patterns, textures and colours into my illustrative voice. I believe that the clothing and we drape over our bodies can act as symbols of our identity and culture.
When asked to illustrate this image, it was important to celebrate women from a diverse range of cultures. I considered the unifying qualities of all women and what stood out for me was the subtle and undemanding strength that radiates from them. I wanted to highlight the importance of sisterhood and unity, both empowering qualities that we must embrace in a world that often undermines them."
Thank you Florence - we hope you like the image she produced as much as we do!
Last Saturday the WOW Women's Film Club shared a programme of animated shorts at Volcano Theatre and Coastal Housing's Jamborî!
Jamborî! was a two day festival on Swansea's High Street, packed with creative things for families to see, do and discover.
We were there to promote the WOW Women's Film Club, which has more women-only screenings happening in and around Swansea soon (watch this space).
Here are some of the families enjoying a selection of short animations from Japan, Russia, the US, France and Wales.
The Welsh animation was Uncle Ahmed's Canaries which was made with Syrian families recenlty settled in Ystradgynlais.
Thanks to Caroline Lane of WOW Women's Film Club and the festival volunteers for making this happen.