22nd Women’s Film Festival Confessional

22nd Women’s Film Festival Confessional

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I’m proud to say that 2013 marks my 20th year in Vermont, but I’m equally embarrassed to admit that this year also marks my first time attending the renown Women’s Film Festival in Brattleboro.

Why?

I was afraid. I was afraid of caring too much. I was afraid of paying money to watch something that would make me sad. I didn’t understand what it was all about. I hadn’t really thought about it being a fundraiser. And, most revealing, I didn’t see myself as one of “those” women–the ones who I imagined as angry or righteous and needing “all about women” things.

I was in the dark.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve seen 3 of the 24 films in the 2013 season, and I only want more. Yes, I’ve teared up a bit, but mostly I’ve been enlightened and invigorated and stirred. What’s even more inspiring is the reason behind the festival which is best described in a VPR interview by Vickie Sterling, the co-director of the Women’s Freedom Center which organizes the festival each year:

Film, like all media, is incredibly influential, and our ideas about how we see ourselves and each other and the world are really shaped by the images and stories we see on screen.

But in the US, most of the films made and seen are done so by men.  In fact, 92% of all feature film screen writers are male as are 95% of the directors.

What happens when you have that sort of imbalance is that women’s stories are fairly one-dimensional–we get these characters who are really portrayed as men would like them to be, rather than as they really are; and the message then conveyed is a woman’s value really is in her youth, her beauty and her sexuality.

We think it’s vital for women to tell their own stories.

I hate to admit it, but this sobering truth never occurred to me before. Not in this way. Not with this clarity or weight.

The striking thing is that I’m not new to women’s issues. I’ve long cared about them. I ‘ve spoken up about them. And yet; there is still so much I take for granted or that I swallow without questioning. I can’t afford to do that anymore. The world can’t afford it.

It’s time for privileged women like me to LEAN IN and lead so that other women have a chance too.

Kelly Salasin, March 2013

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