FEMINIST FRIDAY: Films That Show The Power Of Women’s Stories Taking The Lead

‘Scales’ still image | Singapore International Film Festival website

Welcome to another Feminist Friday, where we are on the home stretch for 2019. As we reflect on the year that was, it’s also a great time to remember that our focus for female-driven stories and content has remained front and center of what we do. This week the videos we’re sharing show how powerful these stories can be and how creators around the world are showcasing them.

First up is a clip from a film called ‘Scales’, from first time Saudi Arabian filmmaker Shahad Ameen. It debuted at the Singapore International Film Festival and was named the best film in the Asian feature competition, according to Variety. It tells the tale of a young girl who defies her village’s harsh and chauvinistic traditions to prove her worth.

A fishing community believes that sacrificing a daughter from every family will appease the sea creatures for good harvest. Hayat, saved from this ritual by her father 12 years ago, lives in shame among the villagers who believe she has cursed them. Determined to prove them wrong, Hayat hunts for the monsters to carve out her own path.

The film speaks about patriarchy with the simplicity of a fable, as the filmmaker explained on stage at the festival when accepting her award.

“It took me six years to make this film, the way I wanted, as feminist as I wanted,” she said. Watch the trailer below, and be sure to keep an eye on the work of Shahad Ameen.

The second video we’re sharing is a news profile on the Pink Shuttles of Afghanistan – a pilot bus program which employs only women to ferry female passengers and their kids across the Afghan capital, according to the AFP report.

“The first-of-its kind service is helping women navigate the many challenges they face getting around Kabul, where a woeful lack of transport options is compounded by the risk of harassment if they walk on the streets,” says the report, which includes stories about some of the female drivers and what they have experienced in public.

Parisa Haidary is a 36 year-old mother and former beautician is one of four women working for the Pink Shuttle, quoted in the story. Fatima Mohammadi is a 31-year-old Kabul resident who says she appreciates the freedom of having a car but still deals with harassment on the road. An Afghan official states that the number of women applying for driving licenses in the capital has been steadily increasing year after year, as there are no restrictions on them driving despite it being an ultra conservative and patriarchal society. Watch below:

The last video this week is a trailer for a new podcast and audiobook series called ‘Now Upon A Time’ created by creative agency executive Neel Williams, whose own daughters inspired him to re-think the way young girls are force-fed stories that double-down on gender stereotypes about women.

His idea was to modernize fairytales that allowed the female protagonist some agency and self-empowerments, rather than the “damsel in distress” trope that is forever relying on a man to save her or affirm her worth.

The authors and designer of the reimagined princesses are all Martin Agency employees, and the series is available FOR FREE on the website. Neel says ‘Now Upon a Time’ isn’t just about giving young girls more modern, healthy female role models to read about in fairytales, they are also for boys to read about and know women aren’t just there to be saved.

“With Now Upon a Time, we’re hoping to provide a free resource for parents, kids and teachers who are actively looking for more modern, empowering stories. Yes, it’s addressing a bit of a princess problem, but the characters and storylines are appealing to everyone, and we need to put these positive role models and smarter, braver princesses in front of the next generation of young men,” he told Campaign Live.

Listen to the full series HERE, and watch the trailer below to see the artwork of agency designer Paige Nuckols:

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