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There’s a kind of rush all over the world

This year the Walker Art Center marks the 10th anniversary of its “Women With Vision” film festival. This year’s theme, “On the Move,” highlights issues of migration and movement of people not just today, but also in the past. All of the films screened at the festival were directed by women. There is a truly global feeling to the event as the directors are from many different countries, including Bangladesh, China, Iran and New Zealand, as well as several from Europe and the United States.

The festival is divided into several sub-themes under the greater umbrellas of films by women and global movement and migration, and several of the films are being introduced by the directors themselves. Many of these movies are area premieres or are difficult, even impossible, to find outside of this type of film festival or museum setting.

March 7 sees the first of the themed screenings, entitled “Women and the History of Film.” The evening features three early American pictures, “A Fool and His Money” by Alice Guy Blache and “The Unshod Maiden” and “The Blot,” both by Lois Weber. All three films are from the early days of cinema and are considered milestones. Alison McMahan, biographer of Blache and professor at the University of Amsterdam, will introduce “A Fool and His Money,” which is described as “a major ‘lost’ work, this first-known narrative film with an all African-American cast was rediscovered Ö in 2000.” University of South Carolina professor Dan Streible will introduce “The Blot,” a film that investigates class relationships. Lois Weber influenced the work of many directors, both through her technical mastery of the form, but also in her choice of controversial topics to explore.

March 15 is the next round of thematically related screenings. A whole day of events features a series of salon discussions held in conjunction with the screenings under the title: “History/Migration/Transformation: Documentary Films and Discussions with Alyce Myatt.”

Myatt is a film scholar and Vice President of Programming for PBS. The films featured (“Victory Square,” “Railroad of Hope,” “My Migrant Soul” and “From the Other Side”) are all documentaries but focus on different issues. “Victory Square” will be introduced by its producer-director Liza Davitch, a local director and graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It is a film about tension in a mother-daughter relationship that arises over the two women’s taste in men, but there are other things going on in the movie, not the least of which is the continuing development of post-Soviet culture in the former Soviet republics. The remaining three movies deal with migration as it pertains to work and opportunity. In each, people leave their homes to seek work elsewhere, some in other regions of their home countries, some far abroad, some legally, and others otherwise.

On March 21, “Four Stories: Short Dramas” will be the theme, and four very different short films (the longest clocking in at a trim 26 minutes) will be shown together. Of particular note is “Rebel in the Soul,” the story of a contemporary woman’s investigation of a brutal lynching of a woman that took place in 1915, which will be introduced by director and St. Paul resident Marie-Francoise Theodore. Her work has been described as “reflect(ing) her desire to represent her heritage and African-American women more authentically.”

This is by no means the complete listing of movies or events; there are many others equally deserving of attention. Some other highlights include Claire Denis’ “Friday Night,” (9 p.m., March 21) a story that takes place all in a single evening in Paris during a transit strike. Also noteworthy is “Fidel” (8 p.m., March 12) by director Estela Bravo. It provides a provocative look at Fidel Castro – one of the most enigmatic leaders in history. The film is introduced by University political science professor August Nimtz, with a discussion following the screening. Finally, a film of particular note to anyone who was excited by the release of “Dogtown and Z-boys” last year, Helen Strickler’s gritty roller coaster of a documentary “Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator” (8 and 10:15 p.m., March 14 as part of Walker After Hours) should prove irresistible. This movie follows one of skateboarding’s first true megastars, Mark “Gator” Rogowski from his days as a rich and famous bad boy jetsetter to his fast fall to rock-bottom and eventual arrest for the murder of a young girl.

There are definitely other movies that should be seen and appreciated; however, the reader will have to seek them out through the Walker Art Center. The Walker has made access to information quite easy through their Web site and publications available around town.

The “Women With Vision” film festival is a perennial favorite of Twin Cities art and cinema lovers, and one of the greatest opportunities to view so many independent, foreign, avant-garde and under-viewed works by women from all over the world – all in one three-week shot. This is one of the best examples of the many and varied culturally significant events that are presented in our city, and make it a better place to live. Get out and enjoy some of these movies while you have the chance, and participate in a great tradition that will continue for many years to come.

The Walker Art Center presents: “Women With Vision: On The Move”

Saturday to March 22.

(612) 275-7622 or visit

Most screenings are $7 (some are free) and take place in the Walker Auditorium

Gabriel Shapiro welcomes comments at [email protected]

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