On July 11, Nevertheless Film Festival, founded and directed by University FTVM alum Meredith Finch, launched its inaugural run at the Michigan Theater. The festival assembled a wide variety of feature-length and short films, all created by female-identifying filmmakers.
The name was inspired by women’s rights motto, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Within the film industry, equal representation behind and in front of the lens has been, to say the least, concerning. In 2017, USC Annenberg conducted a study which found that across the top movies from 2007 to 2016, only four percent of the respective directors were female. However, filmmakers who identify as female make up at least half of the leadership behind every film presented at Nevertheless, as proclaimed in every program given out at each showing.
Between actors speaking publicly about the need for more women in the film industry — like Regina King vowing to make future projects 50 percent female during her Golden Globe acceptance speech — and sexual misconduct running rampant around the industry, the festival sets a much needed precedent for the next generation of filmmakers.
Two films were screened opening night: “Throat Singing in Kangirsuk,” directed by Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, as well as “A Colony.” directed by Genevieve Dulude-De Celles. The former was a three-minute short film, which managed to blow my mind in just that amount of time. It depicted the rugged Arctic terrain of the directors’ home of Kangirsuk, a village in Quebec, Canada, while they throat sang their way through the short. The guttural and, at first, borderline-frightening throat-singing acted as a complete contrast to the peaceful, snowy landscape.
Next was the full-length film “A Colony,” screened in French with English subtitles. Sometimes, I find that watching a movie with subtitles adds a layer between the viewer and the film which can hinder emotional connection, but the subtitles did not take away from the immersion. Language was one of the many themes throughout that added to the endearing and fragile nature of the piece.
Along with showing films, the festival held panels that were free to attend. Connecting film audiences with these filmmakers gave a perspective to movies that many in Ann Arbor have yet to experience. Held in North Quad at Michigan, the various filmmakers spoke on their creative process as well as what drew them to their respective projects. The main objective of these panels being to connect film audiences with filmmakers, a privilege afforded to both parties. Every filmmaker exuded excitement and gratitude. It was surreal to see such high-quality work and then get the filmmaker’s perspective on it. After certain showings, viewers even had the option to head over to HopCat afterwards to share a beer with the filmmaker.
Nevertheless Film Festival was a refreshing and soul-fulfilling break from this summer’s superhero movies. As I entered the Michigan Theater, women smiled at me from the welcome desk encouraging me to take whatever swag I wanted. Scattered along their table were pins with “the future of film is female” emblazoned on them. I shyly took two of those with anticipation of adorning it on my rapidly deteriorating backpack for senior year. Not only is the festival socially beneficial, but the selection of films was easily the most emotionally nuanced I’ve seen this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for Ann Arbor next year.