Updated: Jul 13
Amber Phillips - GGM Film Festival Volunteer, 2021
On March 18th – 21st of March, 2021, GlobalGirl Media UK hosted its very first film festival. Not only was it their first film festival but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, it took place online and it was nothing short of fantastic.
Like many other young women who are hoping to get into the film industry, I volunteered to be part of the post-production team but my role eventually became much more than that. I wanted to be involved in an event that focused on giving young women a voice as well as showcasing their filmmaking talents. It is already so difficult to get a start in the entertainment and creative industry, let alone when you are a woman or from a minority. When I found out that GlobalGirl Media UK’s aim was to give women from all backgrounds that opportunity, I knew that this was the place for me.
GlobalGirl Media Film Festival’s aim is not only to give female filmmakers a platform but to extend learning opportunities to diverse young women, provide networking opportunities with industry professionals and peers, raise awareness for the media training that GGMUK provides, and to promote women in media and film, both behind and in front of the cameras in order to achieve more equal representation in the industry.
The festival itself showcased over 30 short films (from over 150 submissions from more than 40 countries), many of which covered topics that are extremely relevant in this day and age (I’ll get more into that later!) Although the films that were submitted had to be directed by self-identifying women, the festival welcomed all ages and genders.
The event took place over four days:
Day One: A review of the best films in competition, by Anna Smith of the Girls on Film Podcast, with GGM UK founder trustee and documentary maker Sue Carpenter. Lastly, there was a panel talk with Mia Bays and Isra Al Kassi from the charity Birds’ Eye View.
Day Two: The first filmmaker Q&A on Mental Health and Disability (hosted by yours truly), a workshop with Twitch, and the screening of the feature documentary ‘I Am Belmaya,’ followed by a Q&A with the director Sue Carpenter.
Day Three: A career talk with Uzma Mir who is an executive producer in children’s television at the BBC and the second filmmaker Q&A on Sexual Harassment and Violence. There was also a live workshop with Tamara Jacobs, content strategist, and ex-trustee, on finding your voice, and a live keynote session with filmmaker and broadcaster Yalda Hakim who spoke about finding your point of difference.
Day Four: A career talk with Zara Janjua who is a producer, filmmaker, and presenter, our second live workshop with Tamara Jacobs focused on developing your story and the awards ceremony hosted by Anna Smith.
As you can see, it was totally jam-packed!
The films? Incredible. So many issues and challenges that women face every day were bought to the screen; issues from women in first and third-world countries, issues on disability, sexual harassment, gender inequality, and patriarchal issues. If you are a human being, there will be a film (or three) that speaks to you.
One topic that arose time and time again was sexual harassment. Films such as Run Amok and The Museum tackled the theme in two very different ways. Run Amok was a revenge film much like Thelma and Louise and Promising Young Woman whereas The Museum was an animation that explained what it is like to be made to feel like your body is not your own. The filmmaker Q&A on Sexual Harassment and Violence spoke to both of these directors and two others on why they made their films, why they chose the style and tones of the films, and what the directors wanted the audience to take from watching their films. As it was a film festival by women, the ways in which these topics were covered were done so in a touching and relatable way which also allows room for education within the audience.
Other films that stood out were Hattie, Hamada, and Aguan. Hattie was a moving documentary that followed the life of 16-year-old Hattie who suffers from spina bifida, allowing the audience to understand that there is more to someone than their disability. Hamada was about a woman racing driver in UAE and Aguan was about a female rickshaw driver in Bangladesh. Both films challenge the audience’s views on women taking on masculine roles in a patriarchal society.
As a volunteer and (hopeful) future filmmaker, I have been honored to take part in an event that so openly praises women, not to mention having been given the opportunity to host a panel on something that is so close to my heart. I have to say a massive thank you and shoutout to Dami, Yalda, Aisha, and Ami. These four women are not only insanely talented and inspirational but have been so supportive throughout the entire process.
I can honestly say that GlobalGirl Media UK put together a fantastic film festival and I can’t wait to be a part of the next one!