Film has the power to shift the way society sees and treats women

Shaunna Harper looks forward to a #TimesUp dialogue session, as part of Cardiff International Film Festival

Shaunna Harper is a published author with a strong interest in film making. Originally from Derbyshire, she now lives in Cardiff

“2018 has been a year of much needed change in the film industry across the globe. What started just over a year ago when the New York Times reported on the many allegations of sexual harassment and assaults against Harvey Weinstein has snowballed into millions of women speaking out about men’s inappropriate, unwanted, harassing and abusive behaviour. The viral explosion of the #MeToo campaign on social media has seen millions of courageous survivors of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ based violence and all forms of violence against women raise their voices to stand in solidarity with their sisters across the world.”

 

This is the view of Welsh Women’s Aid, who have been prominent in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, where women in the media have spoken up about abuses behind the scenes.

 

After such a challenging year, the film making industry certainly needs a beacon of light. Last month, the charity announced an exciting new partnership with the Cardiff International Film Festival, which will be taking place in the Bay’s historic Pierhead building and at the Atrium in Cardiff city centre starting today and running until Sunday.

 

Since its debut event last year, the Festival, organised by Cardiff-based director Rahil Sayed, has garnered much praise and excitement, showcasing a breadth of film making talent across Welsh and international waters. Welsh Women’s Aid are delighted to be partnering on an event that will “ensure that the Time’s Up movement is visible and create change in Wales.”

 

Through the association with Cardiff International Film Festival, Welsh Women’s Aid are looking to continue the hard work they put in to ensure that violence and harassment against women stops. The festival itself advocates and celebrates inclusion; film makers and fans across the globe are getting involved in the events at the weekend, from the Pierhead to the Atrium at South Wales University and the Senedd.

 

The positivity this festival is sure to bring is something Welsh Women’s Aid want to see more of, especially with the F-rated category included this year.

 

“We are really pleased to see the Cardiff International Film Festival F- Rated award,” said the organisation. “The F-Rating is a way of recognising films that fairly represent women on screen and behind the camera. Highlighting these films sends a clear message to distributors, producers and funders that women can and should have more than just a supporting role within the industry. Film has the power to shift the way society sees and treats women, and the kind of womanhood it promotes and sells to the world.

 

“It is critical to recognise and promote women being represented on and behind the camera in the entertainment industry to create safe, fair and dignified workplaces for women. Recognising women in positions of change and representing women in a way that portrays their realities will enable the challenging of attitudes and changes in culture that normalises sexual assault and harassment. Ensuring women have a platform to speak from allows for the collective power to change the industry and challenge the culture of silence and impunity. We welcome Cardiff International Film Festival creating opportunities for more diverse voices to be heard and represented in the film industry across the programme.”

 

Award-winning documentary film maker Florence Ayisi, who features as a judge this year and whose many works celebrate women and their achievements, is also hoping the festival and its associates can work together to bring about positivity and change by bringing people together.

 

“Just the fact that people are talking about it is powerful enough,” she says of the recent #MeToo movement. “Just the fact that social media offers a space for women to express their experiences and opinions is a powerful. If the cinema becomes a space where people can shout, then it can only be good. The #MeToo Movement has opened up a space for dialogue, and the cinema could take this forward in ways that will continue to impact on society in positive and challenging ways.”

 

For International Women’s Day 2018, in solidarity with the movement across the globe, Welsh Women’s Aid published their Press for Progress statement to say:

 

  • Time’s up on perpetrators’ behaviour going unacknowledged, unchallenged and unpunished.
  • Time’s up on women and girls living with the everyday experience of harassment, intimidation, violence and abuse throughout our public and private lives.
  • Time’s up on an era when survivors of violence against women are not believed, are victim-blamed, are asked what they were wearing and what they had been drinking.

 

The manifesto, then, is clear.

 

“By working together, we can create a just, safe and equitable society free from sexual harassment and violence.”

 

Welsh Women’s Aid will be holding a Time’s Up dialogue session to look at how positive change can be created in Wales on 6th December. Cardiff International Film Festival takes place in the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay and at the Atrium in Cardiff City Centre on from October 19th to 21st.

 

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

 

All articles published on Click on Wales are subject to IWA’s disclaimer.

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