World of Women (WOW) Film Fair Middle East is the first women’s short film festival that promotes and celebrates the talents of female directors, producers, writers, editors and cinematographers in the industry worldwide.
The event began more than a decade ago in Australia with the non-profit association Women in Film and TV and Hermoine Macura’s Straight Street Media. The festival is now in its second year in Dubai and will screen up to 12 films over two days, finishing, aptly, on Sunday March 8, International Women’s Day. Unlike other film festivals, the screenings are grouped by subject – health, gender issues and cultural diversity – with films tackling topics such as living with Alzheimer’s, autism, domestic abuse, poverty, employment inequality and cultural traditions. The screenings will include short films and documentaries, and will be followed by a discussion with an expert on the subject matter raised. Macura, the event’s creative director, says this is key to what WOW Film Fair Middle East is all about.
‘We want to create a platform for engagement and dialogue; to enrich people, change their views and to educate,’ she says. ‘Actually, after I watched one of the documentaries that was submitted – Breast Friends – I went and got myself checked, because I learnt things from it that I never knew. That’s the type of engagement I want. I don’t want people to come and watch the movies and then just walk away. I want the films to really impact on people’s lives.’
Macura and her team have sourced a number of thought-provoking films to showcase at the event. ‘It’s going from strength to strength and we have productions from all over the world. I try and focus on female Arab filmmakers. We also have a selection of films made by men, but they are focused on issues in the Arab world, perhaps that people aren’t that aware of.’
The event is also hosting the WOW Awards for the first time this year, which celebrates excellence in women in five different categories – Humanitarian of the Year, Business Leader of the Year, Media Personality of the Year, Sports Leader of the Year, Rising talent Leader of the Year – and is calling on the community as a whole to nominate and vote for the women they feel deserve special recognition. The winners will be announced in a special ceremony on Sunday March 8 at Mercato Mall and will receive a prize, certificate and trophy. Those who wish to nominate someone should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, age, nationality and why they think their nominee deserves to win. ‘I just want to allow women in these five fields to shine. We need to do that more in this region,’
Macura says. While the film festival and awards celebrate women’s achievements, anyone who is passionate about supporting females in the arts is encouraged to go along to the event. ‘It provides an opportunity to celebrate how far women have come in the past 100 years, achieving equal rights and pay, and the right to vote. A lot of women don’t recognise that we’ve really come a long way.’
Free with online registration. March 7-8. Watch: Health in Focus, March 7, 3pm. VOX Cinema, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha; Gender Issues, March 7, 6pm. VOX Cinema, Mercato Mall, Jumeirah; Cultural diversity: March 7, 8pm. VOX Cinema, Mercato Mall, Jumierah. WOW Women’s Awards: March 8, 8pm. Centre Stage, Mercato Mall, Jumeirah. All entries for awards to be submitted by March 3. www.wowmiddleeast.com (04 455 8561).