Women’s Festival 2.0 between grassroots globalization and neoliberal feminism: The Birds Eye View Festival
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Women’s film festivals are among the most significant instances of grassroots creativity. Most of these festivals emerged in the heyday of the women’s film movement as alternative platforms of distribution and exhibition for women’s cinema. Women’s film festivals have historically been a niche area of film promotion, vastly ignored by mainstream media. Especially since the advent of social media technologies and services they have been gaining more visibility, both within the international festivals’ circuit and in the public sphere. This paper examines the Web 2.0 generation of women’s film festivals, from within a conceptual framework drawing on feminist film theory, media theory, and film festival studies. The focus is on the Birds Eye View (BEV) festival, founded in 2002 in London, UK. The BEV exemplifies a widespread tendency in the Web2.0 generation of women’s film festivals: that of resorting to social media to open up new spaces and opportunities for women filmmakers across different modes and contexts of media production and distribution. In following this trend, the BEV festival has been progressively incorporating market-oriented and industry-linked activities and events in its program, endorsed by an almost all-female board of trustees mainly composed of executives and top managers of important film institutions, film festivals, film companies, and financial institutions. While this shift reflects the festival’s effort to remain competitive and sustainable after the government’s cuts on cultural subsidies in 2008, it also signals a dangerous move towards gender mainstreaming.
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