Inaugural Female Filmmakers Festival kicks off in LA this weekend

The festival will consist of screenings and a series of panel discussions on the challenges of breaking in from a female perspective

Inaugural Female Filmmakers Festival kicks off in LA this weekend

By Ryan Aliapoulios

What do Jameela Jamil, Lake Bell and Natalie Farrey all have in common? They will all be appearing on panels together this in weekend in downtown Los Angeles, California for the inaugural Female Filmmakers Festival, abbreviated as FFFest. Running from October 12th to October 14th, the event will consist of a series of panels on the film industry and the challenges of breaking in from a female perspective. Additionally, the fest has worked with curators including Women Under the Influence, PET and the African Film Festival to license and screen a number of rare international films.

Jameela Jamil, Lake Bell and Natalie Farrey will all be appearing on panels
Jameela Jamil, Lake Bell and Natalie Farrey will all be appearing on panels

The festival was put together by a group of primarily New York-based female filmmakers and entrepreneurs, namely Mimi Packer, a documentary filmmaker and producer; Clémence Polès, a creative strategist and founder of a female recommendation and style site Passerbuys and Dasha Faires, a creative director and fashion veteran. The final co-founder is Natalie Fält, an LA-based filmmaker and the mind behind the Women and Film collective.

Clémence Polès is a creative strategist and founder of a female recommendation and style site Passerbuys
Clémence Polès is a creative strategist and founder of a female recommendation and style site Passerbuys

The result of these intersecting backgrounds is an eclectic line-up of talent both domestic and international, with partners including Glossier, Broadly and A24. Beyond the headliners, the panels are designed to address the granular challenges of filmmaking, including one on how to break into the industry while still paying your rent and another on balancing motherhood and a film career.

Mimi Packer is a documentary filmmaker and producer
Mimi Packer is a documentary filmmaker and producer

According to Polès, the idea for the event came together after a series of conversations with Fält. “We just went off on how we love films, how there needs to be more programming for female filmmakers and next thing we know we were like, ‘Let’s just do a film series,’” she said. “Originally we had the idea of doing a 10 day film festival but then once we started producing it, we realized it wasn’t necessarily a casual, small endeavor.”

Though the majority of the organizing and production of the event began as recently as June of this year, the end result is a streamlined three-day festival with many events and partnerships—though it was not without its difficulties.

“Coming in from not personally having a film background,” Polès said, “the hardest part was probably proving your worth the first time around. Some of the licensing for some the films were particularly hard to get.” For her part, Packer said the challenges were are all in the details. “It’s kind of like a million little events in one,” Packer said, “but for the most part we’ve gotten a really positive response.”

While the festival comes at a particularly heated political moment when it comes to the topic of women and structural power, Packer and Polès are hoping that their festival can deal with these issues with a lighter touch. “In the media right now it’s just kind of like, ‘Look at how women are mistreated or misrepresented,’” Polès said. “I think it’s nice to maybe step back from that and just celebrate great female filmmakers, just to have more positivity in our bleak, bleak world right now.”

As far as addressing problems of access, the panels themselves plan to give plenty of practical advice to women looking to get their start in the industry. “With promoting anything on the internet, you’re going to get negative feedback,” Packer said. “But we’ve gotten some comments like, ‘I can’t think of a single film made by a woman that is worth mentioning.’ So I’m excited for women to come and also men and also anybody who might not be a film buff to begin with to enjoy some of these amazing films.”

A still from ‘Mossane,’ a 1996 film by African filmmaking pioneer Safi Faye which won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival that year
A still from ‘Mossane,’ a 1996 film by African filmmaking pioneer Safi Faye which won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival that year

The full schedule and tickets to the festival are available through FFFest’s site and the event will be held at the Downtown Independent theater. Though all the films planned are special, of particular note is ‘Mossane,’ a 1996 film by African filmmaking pioneer Safi Faye, which won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival that year. “When I was researching all this, I hadn’t heard of [Faye] before,” Polès said, “yet she’s such an important figure in African cinema. Why isn’t there more education about [filmmakers like her]? It’s a beautiful, beautiful film and having the chance to premiere it in LA is really special.”