Zonta film festival puts female directors centre stage

Photo by Kash Patel

This week from Nov. 6-9, the ninth annual Zonta Film Festival was held at The Princess Twin Cinemas in Uptown Waterloo.

The festival features films by and for women, covering a broad range of topics. With the film industry being largely male-dominated, Zonta provides female filmmakers with a platform to showcase their work to the community.

“This is our ninth film festival, and all of the films have a female base to it and they are all done by female filmmakers. So, whether they’re directors, writers, producers, there’s females involved in the creation of it and all the films are about a female topic,” Brenda Graham, co-chair of The Zonta Club of KW said.

Zonta is a global organization of professional women who work together to advocate for the advancement of women across the world.

“[We] advocate and empower women through service and advocacy. So, we get involved through service within the community, we volunteer, we raise money, we march in Me Too, in Nevertheless, all those kinds of things,” Graham said.

Founded in Buffalo, New York in 1919, Zonta celebrated their hundredth year anniversary on Nov. 8 — just in time for the film festival.

Graham explained that the Film Festival is one of three fundraisers that Zonta Club of KW holds each year.

This year’s lineup included 12 films which were screened throughout the four days, ranging from topics such as Indigenous rights, human rights, women in prison, the beauty industry and more.

A festival like this is really important for women. To help and encourage other female filmmakers, to know that they can succeed, to spread the word about women who have made empowering decisions… to get women to step up, and champion and advocate in their community.

– Brenda Graham, co-chair of The Zonta Club of KW

“We have a committee and we look at topics that are key, we never choose any film that is older than about 18 months old. So we look at relevant topics, we look at individuals who have inspired others, we look at TIFF, we look at HotDocs, we look at other female film festivals, and we got through all of that and come up with (the lineup),” Graham said.

“I’ve talked to a number of people, because I’ve been sitting out in the lobby, and a lot of them have said that they think this is probably the best lineup that we’ve had. So, it’s very diverse…there’s so many topics that we covered this year,” Graham said.

For a total of $70, viewers were able to purchase all-access festival passes, or were able to buy tickets individually for $15.

To date, The Zonta Club of KW has raised $110, 000 through the film festival alone for various women’s charities in the region. This doesn’t include numbers from this festival, which would raise the figure even further.

“A festival like this is really important for women. To help and encourage other female filmmakers, to know that they can succeed, to spread the word about women who have made empowering decisions… to get women to step up, and champion and advocate in their community. It’s a wonderful thing to see,” Graham said.

While the festival covered a broad range of topics, two films which were popular among university students were Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, and RBG, a film about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“We had a number of university students here that just said ‘I want to hear more about this empowering woman that you hear about who’s (an associate) Justice in the States’,” Graham said.

“It’s really nice to see the reception, and know that they’re really enjoying the line up this year,”      Graham said.

This festival is the largest in KW — and since its conception, it has grown from a one day festival to a four day festival, signalling the impact that it has had in the region.

“If people didn’t get an opportunity to visit the Zonta Film Festival, we’ll be here next year, same time for our tenth, bigger and better than ever,” Graham said.

    Leave a Reply