Stockholms feministiska filmfestival (STIFF) is a film festival for films made by women and that focus on women’s stories and experiences, with the aim of combatting gender inequality in the film industry. It takes place at Zita Folkets Bio between March 2 and 5. We caught up with the festival chief Stephanie Thögersen to learn more about this year’s edition.
So this is the second edition of the festival. What’s new for this year and what’s changed from last year’s edition?
This year we will have a bigger program, with more films, guests and events. Also we will have a Nordic theme and screen amazing new features from the Nordic countries.
Sameblod is the film that opens the festival. Can you tell us a little about that film and why you picked it to open?
The film is about fourteen-year-old girl Elle Marja, who find herself stuck between the Sapmi and the Swedish culture. She can’t have both, and against her will she is forced to choose between the two worlds. The film tells an important story about the dark Swedish history of colonial practices over the Sampi people. At the same time, it is a beautiful portrait of a girls coming of age and identity.
Can you talk about some of the other films you’re excited to show this year? Any particular films that stand out for you as a personal highlight?
A personal highlight is Home by Flemish director Fien Troch. An incredibly strong film about a couple of troubled teenagers struggling on the border of the adult world. I also recommend Kristina Grozeva’s thriller Glory and the documentary The Apology, about women claiming justification for the brutal Japanese war crimes they suffered during World War II.
Outside of the film showings themselves, what else can we expect from the festival?
There will be several panels discussing subjects as gender equality in film and issues surrounding “Trumpism”, alternative facts and public service media. There will also be several face 2 face sessions, work in progress and parties.
Last year you conducted a Swedish evaluation of gender equality in film distribution. Could you tell us a little about that and what you think the results say about the conditions for women in cinema today?
Our evaluation showed, for example, that 93% of all cinema visits in Sweden were to films directed by men. This demonstrates that women do not have the same opportunities as men to share their experiences and that half the populations stories aren’t being heard.
Do you think that the overwhelming gender imbalance that exists in writing and directing in the film industry discourages women from trying to take up those professions? And does having a film festival that showcases the work of women and female-made film help to counterbalance that?
I actually think that there are a lot of female directors and writers out there already. The problem is that they don’t get the same opportunities as men. Most often the industry has a ‘business as usual’ approach, which is to pick a male director. So I don’t think we can say that there are no female directors and writers, and I think that a film festival is a good way of showing that.
Finally, what advice would you give to young women who want to or are thinking about getting into the film industry?
To cooperate with and lift other women. And to send their future films to Stockholm feminist film festival!