Skip to main content
Numb film image

Focus: Women, Life and Freedom

Image: Numb, VIFF 2023

A guest programmer embarks on a thematic exploration using cinema as their guide

One year after Mahsa Amini was murdered by Iran’s morality police, “Women Life Freedom”, the largest women-led revolution in recent history, continues its urgent battle for women’s rights and justice. While varied in form, content, style, and aesthetic, the five films selected for Focus: Women, Life and Freedom each centre on women and explore the impacts of patriarchy and misogyny—from overt injustices to multi-generational legacies across borders and genders—both in the world and in Iran in the wake of 1979’s revolution.

Through this program, I wanted to shine a light on the broad impacts of patriarchy and misogyny, and the experience of these impacts through a notion of time that is both linear and abstract. Loss is always about the future—a loss of possibilities for us, our parents, children, friends, homeland… We may experience such losses suddenly: A law denying women human rights. A disappeared loved one. A relocation to a new country. (How long does it take to say goodbye?) But these losses continue to exist out of time, both as memory and as a future we can no longer imagine.

Regardless of gender, the tragedy and violence of patriarchy and misogyny is a collective experience of grief and rage. Within that collective grief and rage, there is also a chance for rebirth and a possibility for a new consciousness. Through beautiful cinematography, heartfelt acting, and thought-provoking stories, these films and filmmakers highlight the resilience, joy, triumphs, love, and beauty that exist in humanity even in the darkest of times. They invite us to laugh together, to think together, and to collectively imagine a future where we can live free of injustices and with more compassion.

— Fay Nass, Guest Programmer