Under the Reign of Kybele By Alin Tasciyan
Eight years ago if anyone told me that an international women’s film festival would be established in Turkey, and it would really merit the title “festival”, I wouldn’t have taken them seriously. But here stands the Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival in the middle of Turkey’s capital, in the heart of Anatolia. Kybele, the mother goddess, must be contented and smiling in her corner of the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Since all of the successful international film festivals in Turkey were directed or co-directed by women and some of the promising filmmakers were female even then, eight years ago, I should have had more faith. But our ultimately patriarchal society was not encouraging at all.
Still, nothing could have discouraged a bunch of “witches” who were determined to ride the flying broom.
After many years of struggle both financially and artistically, the festival has become an inevitable cultural event for Turkey. It has not yet reached a large number of spectators but it succeeded to invite men into the theatres. The organizers’ efforts to make FBIWFF an event for everybody have blossomed this year. Until the fifth year of the festival the audience was almost only made up of women, whereas this year in some of the screenings male spectators filled half the seats. This is a remarkable achievement! Young generations of cinephiles, film students and volunteers of the festival do not see any distinction between the sexes of filmmakers. Middle-aged spectators have been more resistant to the festival in the past but due to the moderate feminist attitude of the FBIWFF they have begun to show up at the screenings. Some of them heartily joined Q&As, proving sometimes to be much more curious than the women in the audience!
This year the festival has included, for the first time, films directed by men. The festival’s main theme, “love”, was a very good occasion for this change. Under the title “Men in Love” the audience could watch classics such as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul , Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s . Most probably this is also why men felt like they were on familiar ground. In the following years the festival will undoubtedly have to select more films by men in order to give the audience a chance to make comparison. As long as FBIWFF remains a socially conscious cultural event aiming at a certain goal they will need to gain as many spectators possible.