Film fest focuses on women

05:00 AM, Mar 20, 2013

Lt. Elle Helmer pauses at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 'The Invisible War.' (Cinedigm/Docurama Film)/

Written By Jack Garner

Women in Power is the topic for and name of a weeklong film festival, opening Friday (March 22) at the Little Theatre. The fest kicks off at 7 p.m. with a powerful, Oscar-nominated documentary, The Invisible War. The engrossing film spotlights a dark secret, the disturbingly high probability that a woman in today’s military will be subject to sexual assault.

Nine other films follow in the Women in Power festival, co-sponsored by the Little, WXXI and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies.

The Invisible War will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Catherine Cerulli, the director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester.

The festival demonstrates a shared enthusiasm for the topic, with co-sponsorship by various Rochester organizations and educational institutions. Admission to each film is $5, except where noted as free. Here are the other films:

Salaam Dunk, at 11 a.m. Saturday (March 23), presented by MVP Health Care’s Little Buddies series and the High Falls Film Festival. The documentary, set in Northern Iraq, is about basketball, friendship and the pain of losing those we love.

Boxing Girls of Kabul, at 1 p.m. Saturday (March 23), presented by The Rochester Chapter of the National Organization for Women. In the film, young Afghan women are depicted as they strive to become world-class boxers. They find they have a lot to fight outside the ring, including a repressive regime and enduring societal pressures.

Miss Representation, at 7 p.m. Saturday (March 23), presented with free admission by St. John Fisher College. The film examines how misrepresentations of women in the media have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power.

Oma and Bella, at 1 p.m. Sunday (March 24), is co-sponsored by the JCC Ames-Amzalak Rochester Jewish Film Festival. The film profiles two friends and Holocaust survivors who live in Berlin, and reflects on their childhoods, their friendship and heritage when they get together to cook food.

Pink Saris, at 7 p.m. Sunday (March 24), profiling a woman’s fight for rights in rural India. A panel discussion will follow, with three academics — Anthony Carter and Ayala Emmett, from the University of Rochester, and Barbara LeSavoy, from The College at Brockport.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Super Heroines, at 7 p.m. Monday (March 25), a free presentation from WXXI’s Community Cinema Series. As the title suggests, the film spotlights superheroes, warrior princesses and other female icons of pop culture. A panel discussion follows with Barbara LeSavoy, director of Gender Studies at The College at Brockport; Fredericka (Freddi) Macek, of the Rochester Labor Council; and Carter Soles, assistant film professor at The College at Brockport

The Price of Sex, at 7 p.m. Tuesday (March 26). The documentary profiles young Eastern European women entangled in sex trafficking and abuse. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Jean Pedersen, associate history professor at the Eastman School of Music; Jennifer Creech, associate professor of film and gender studies at the University of Rochester; and Angela Clark-Taylor of the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Rochester.

Water Children, at 7 p.m. Wednesday (March 27). Unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama is profiled as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life.

The Poetry Deal: A Film with Diane di Prima, at 7 p.m. March 28. A free program, co-sponsored by Writers & Books, it’s an impressionistic documentary about legendary poet Diane di Prima. The story is of rebellion and artistic integrity. A poetry reading by Jennifer Litt, Sarah Freligh, and Kitty Jospé will follow the screening.

PACINO’S SPECTOR. Al Pacino contributes a fascinating portrait on HBO, starting Sunday (March 24), as the freaky, wacky musical genius Phil Spector, during his first trial for murder, which ended in a hung jury. (He was convicted in a second trial.)

The made-for-cable Phil Spector co-stars Helen Mirren as the expert lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, who represents the infamous music producer, and is written and directed by the highly respected David Mamet.

Mamet’s famous terse writing is in full bloom, and both lead performances are fabulous. It solves no issues about the tragedy, but offers a riveting portrait of Spector’s world-class eccentricity.

DRYDEN GEMS: A handful of winners are on the screen at the refurbished George Eastman House Dryden Theatre this weekend. I highly recommend Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant detective story, High and Low at 8 p.m. Thursday (March 21); The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with Clint Eastwood, at 8 p.m. Friday (March 22); Wild World of Looney Tunes (a dozen Warner Bros. ‘toons) at 8 p.m. Saturday (March 23) and 2 p.m. Sunday (March 24); and the under-seen Fat City, a tank-town boxing drama with Stacy Keach and a young Jeff Bridges, at 8 p.m. Tuesday (March 26).