CinemaAttic gather again for their monthly exhibition of short films, with the theme this time focusing on the female gaze in cinema. Including but not restricted to films directed by women, Mujer(es) also places an emphasis on shorts which seek to shine a new light on the female experience, either through their protagonists, their storylines or their contexts.
First up is Wan Xia: The Last Light of the Sunset. This experimental mockumentary about a Chinese ex-pat community club in Madrid is a curious beast, allowing an insight into an esoteric world of table tennis, karaoke and leaky ceilings inside the club’s crimson-curtained meeting hall. Featuring an interview with a recently deceased member, the film is a delightful if slightly puzzling mix of off-the-wall humour and whimsy.
Second comes La Última Virgen (The Last Virgin), an unflinching exploration of the pressures that teenage girls face to lose their virginity – not just from the boys who would take it, but from their peers as well. Personal choice and mental wellbeing are cast to the wayside in favour of acceptance and fitting in, raising difficult questions about the healthiness of modern society.
The last film of the opening segment is To Be a Torero, an up-close-and-personal documentary of an impoverished family with a difficult home life, who are pinning their hopes on the eldest son’s dreams of becoming a matador. Careful to remain unjudgmental and objective in her depiction of the family, Edinburgh-based director Inma de Reyes beautifully captures the human aspect of the story, most noticeable through flashes of humour provided largely by the youngest son. Thanks to this excellent eye for detail, de Reyes has won the opportunity to turn the short into a feature film.
The second half kicks off with Tshweesh, a desultory stroll around downtown Beirut on the opening day of World Cup 1982. The streets are almost deserted due to the imminent kick-off, allowing a young woman to ramble freely around the city and children to play on its rooftops, until disaster strikes in the form of an abrupt air raid. Just as suddenly as it hit, however, the attack is over and Beirut returns to its business, barely noticing the disruption at all. Lebanese director Feyrouz Serhal perfectly pinpoints the get-on-with-it mindset of the city, amplified by the conflation of the occasion with the 1998 World Cup, suggesting this is a permanent state of affairs in the capital.
The last film of the evening is perhaps the most poignant. Matria, directed by Álvaro Gago Diaz, focuses on Ramona, a put-upon factory worker who seems to be living her life entirely for others. Indeed, Ramona is so overworked that she collapses with exhaustion before the day has even begun, but she’ll need to rally herself is she is to claim the prize of watching her granddaughter play basketball at the day’s end.
Up next for CinemaAttic is a special screening of Nae Pasaran, the Chilean-Scottish documentary about how a group of factory workers from East Kilbride were able to strike a blow against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, on Saturday 27th April at Lauriston Hall at 7.30pm.