So a Brussels Declaration was duly drafted as a sister manifesto and festival charter. The Botanique hosts this fifth edition of Dames Draaien, which packs more than 45 screenings into four days – from drama to comedy to documentary, from shorts to features (and everything in between). The only criterion: Films must be produced in keeping with the spirit of the Declaration(s). These are films in which women figure prominently and equitably in the creative process.
French-American filmmaker Jessica Champeaux presents her short documentary The Pedicure Trial, starring her mother and grandmother as well as her own feet. A pedicure session leads to a family quarrel implicating three generations of women from both sides of the Atlantic – the filmmaker is British-born, while her ancestresses are southern belles from Georgia. Keti Machavariani’s drama Salt White, meanwhile, takes us half a world away to another Georgia and shows us a slice of life in the post-Soviet state (pictured).
Dames Draaien covers an impressive cultural and geographical sweep, including Syria, China, Iran, Turkey and more. Hélène Harder’s Ladies’ Turn follows the vicissitudes of the Senegalese women’s football league. It’s not easy being an athlete when most sport facilities in your country won’t admit you. Women and the Egyptian Revolution will be screened in the presence of its Flemish director, An Van Raemdonck. The documentary traces a programme for gender equality in post-revolutionary Egypt.
This is mostly heavy stuff, but there’s a healthy dose of the surreal courtesy of Xiaolu Guo’s UFO in her Eyes, in which a woman from the Chinese countryside has a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and a wandering American businessman. Then there’s Belgian Psycho in which director Katia Olivier takes the basic premise of American Psycho – the successful boy next door is a homicidal maniac – and gives it a feminist (and Belgian) twist.
Movies are the main event at Dames Draaien, but the festival also features a day-long professional conference as well as a series of special guests and master classes. Plenty of Botanique parties are scheduled throughout, including a closing concert by UK all-girl alt choir Gaggle.
Languages and subtitles vary widely, check listings carefully