Comment: The 21st Female Eye Film Festival

by Lynn on August 1, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Comment on the 21st Female Eye Film Festival: July 26-July 30, 2023. At the Hot Docs Rogers Cinema, Toronto, Ont.

A change of pace. I was invited to the 21st Female Eye Film Festival that played July 26-July 30 at the Hot Docs Rogers Cinema. The festival’s tag line is: “Always Honest, Not Always Pretty.”

They got that right. The selections of films from across the country and around the world were challenging, informative, bracing, hard-hitting, shocking and always relevant. The Director’s Statement from Leslie Ann Coles, the Founder, Executive/Artistic director of The Female Eye, says that this year’s festival is pared down as they recover from the difficulties of COVID. But as a first-time visitor to the festival, what I saw was stunning in scope.

Over the three days I was able to see what was on offer in programs composed of shorts, documentaries and features from North America, Canada and Internationally. They were categorized under such headings as: Redemption, Individuation, The Personal is Political, Excavating Truths Violence Against Women, Lost and Sexual Rights and Liberty. The power, both gentle and full on that poured out of those films was compelling.

Here are some standouts in a festival loaded with them:


American Dream

Directed by Angela Garcia Coombs. From USA

About a recovering addict trying to get ahead while suffering the dangers and indignities of gig work in the luxury homes of the privileged. She showed tenacity, determination and resilience.

Every Day

Directed by Tara Alexandra Brown and Vin Chandra. From USA

A young woman named Maddie takes a job as a tutor and meets and bonds with the nanny. Maddie is recovering from an earlier trauma and the new relationship triggers memories of the earlier trauma. The film evolves slowly and as more and more information is revealed you find yourself gripping the armrest harder and harder.


Tiger Mom

Directed by Munara Muhetaer. From Canada

A Chinese-Canadian teenager is trapped under the thumb of his demanding, controlling mother until he rebels. You think the film might go down a familiar path, but it veers in another direction, just as reasonable and effective. Beautifully done.

The Personal is Political


Directed by Ragda Alazizi. From Germany/Syria

A short film of stories of women protesting brutal regimes and in particular, one woman imprisoned in Saydnaya Prison in Syria. About women staring down their oppressors. Brutal and powerful.  


Directed by Riffy Ahmed.

Euripides’s tragedy of a betrayed wife who takes violent revenge as reinterpreted through a BIPOC lens. Poetic, graceful and gripping.

Excavating Truths; Violence against women.


Directed by Jennifer Greco. From Colombia

A young woman returns home for the funeral of her school friend and to confront her mother about a trauma the young woman endured at the hands of a friend of the family who sexually abused her when she was a child. The mother is generally silent until she gives her own truth.

Again, the resilience of women beautifully portrayed.



Directed by Lisa Robertson. From Canada

A woman nervously meets the daughter she gave up for adoption years before.

In this elegant, heartbreaking short film, the questioning daughter wants to know so much about her birth mother, why she gave her up and what happened to her. If ever there was a short film that begged to be expanded into a feature, Smokebreak is it. The subject is deep with questions on both sides for the woman who gave up her child and the child who is now an adult.

Sexual Rights and Liberty (Foreign Shorts and Canadian Documentary)

Koromousso, Big Sister

Directed by Habibata Quarme and Jim Donovan

A group of African-Canadian women challenge cultural taboos surrounding female sexuality, and female genital mutilation. Powerful is an understatement.

All the performances in all the films were stunning.

So glad I was introduced to this worthy festival.

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