By Annie Junor

Day one of the third annual Melbourne Women in Film Festival started with a bang! 

The afternoon began with the first panel of the fest, Leading the Way: Empowering Women’s Leadership in the Screen Industries. Representatives from across the industry came together for a frank and empowering open forum discussion of the current climate for women in the film industry. These accomplished panellists included producers Leanne Tonkes and Sue Maslin, CEO of Film Victoria Caroline Pitcher, and head of the Indigenous Department of Screen Australia Penny Smallacombe.

Following the panel was the official 2019 opening night: Freaky, Fantastic and Feminist. The tone for the festival’s theme of exploring darkness on screen was certainly set by the three shorts featured. The first, Storytime (Jub Clerc, 2006) an Indigenous horror film about the tale of the Gooynbooyn woman, followed by Margaret Dodd’s provocative and confronting short This Woman is Not a Car (1982), and the quirky and queer On Guard (Susan Lambert, 1984). The sounds and stylings of the ACMI café provided the perfect atmosphere at the after party for the opportunity to connect with fellow industry members, filmmakers, and film lovers alike.  

What a fantastic opening to a festival that is giving the work of women in film the praise and focus that it has always deserved. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Whitney Monaghan