March 7 – 13 in Sarasota is the 25th anniversary of “Through Women’s Eyes: International Film Festival.” The festival is available to the public in person and through streaming online.

This year’s films include 10 features, 22 shorts, 14 documentaries, 17 narratives, and the work of 6 Emerging Filmmakers from film schools around the world. Organizers received over 355 submissions from 42 countries and; final selections comprise 17 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Guinea, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Norway, Palestine, Sweden, Turkey, UK, and the US. Independent filmmakers from all over the world will attend the festival and meet with audiences to share thought-provoking discussions about what inspires them and how they created their films.

In short, there’s something for everyone, irrespective of your gender, ethnic background or age. There’s a film about the life of Prima Ballerinas, as there are films for military veterans. There are about 14 young women embarking on a journey as they sail to the North Pacific Ocean to one of the most remote places on earth, the site of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” – an accumulation of ocean plastic. See trailer here.

Are you a book club lover? This one’s for you: Eight American women started a book club in the 1940s; little did they know it would bond them for the next 70. A look at friendships, despite all manner of differences. A Greatest Hit and one of our most popular films ever; if you’re in a book club, bring your group. If you’re not, bring a friend for an emotional and personal journey you won’t forget.

If you enjoy political and social issues, one film explores whetherAmericans really as polarized as the media portrays? Is it true that we can hardly talk to one another about issues like guns and abortion? Researchers set out to answer this question – possibly the most important question of our time – by bringing together average citizens from five states. A must-see for all concerned citizens. See trailer here.

The Fight for Black Lives (Panel discussion follows film): The health disparities between black and white women are shocking – but do you know what is driving these differences? See the film, then join our panel conversation with the filmmakers and local medical providers and patients..

Other “must see’s” include the real Afghanistan behind the headlines and newsreels. When Mom is Gone – a Greatest Hit – reveals the fascinating and moving realities of a rural Afghani family and The Last Hug chronicles two young women who left Kabul when Americans departed and were welcomed to the University of Arizona. See trailer here

Films are from the USA and 17 other countries, See here for the full film list.

Change the Tune brings together seven female jazz musicians and asks the question: “What difference would community make?” Combining the work of contemporary female musicians with footage from the 1960’s, Tune creates an alternate world of what might have been and is a compelling story about the power of community and the joy of music.

While the film festival brings some of the best films, shorts and documentaries to Sarasota, promoting gender equality is at the heart of the mission. The Through Women’s International Film Festival film continues because progress toward a gender-equal media remains painfully slow. For example, women get 31% of screen time and are four times more likely to be portrayed nude than their male counterparts, and, by contrast, men speak seven times more in advertising. Behind the camera, women are only 18% of directors,19% of writers, and 7% of camera operators. Media informs our career choices, relationships, parenting, and so much more, so these disparities continue to shape all of us in profound ways. More authentic, representative media yields benefits for everyone.

The Film Festival emphasizes the importance of diverse media representation and the impact it has on shaping our perceptions and worldviews. It highlights the need for a variety of voices and stories to be told in media to foster understanding, empathy, and appreciation for different experiences. The Festival in Sarasota focuses on showcasing underrepresented voices, including films by emerging filmmakers, the LGBTQ community, and women. The Film Festival also includes panel discussions that underscores the disparity in media representation, particularly for women, and calls for a more inclusive portrayal of diverse perspectives to enrich our understanding of the world and the people in it. The media we consume shapes us in profound ways. From news and movies to social media and music, it influences everything from our career aspirations to our worldview. But who gets to tell these stories? The current landscape is unbalanced, with a clear lack of diversity in who creates and is portrayed in media.

This limited representation has consequences. If the only narrative you see about a certain group is negative or incomplete, it can lead to misunderstanding and prejudice. To truly understand the world, we need to see it through diverse lenses.

Over 160 Afghan girls left their homes in Afghanistan and sought sanctuary in the United States after the withdrawal of US forces in August 2021. In response to this urgent situation, many universities opened their doors. Arizona State University generously offered to host 61 of these girls, all displaying a resolute determination to pursue education despite the constraints imposed by the Taliban regime.
Two remarkable individuals, Yalda and Latifa, set out on a challenging journey to turn their aspirations into reality. This documentary captures the formidable obstacles they encountered and overcame in their unwavering pursuit of their dreams.

Fortunately, there’s hope. We can challenge the status quo by actively seeking out and supporting media created by and featuring underrepresented voices. This can be anything from films by emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers to documentaries exploring the experiences of refugees.

NOT TO MISS! If you go:

When? March 7 – 12, 2024

TWE Women’s International Film Festival opens online on March 7 and in-person Friday night, March 8, and offers films all day Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10.

Awards Night  Awards Friday night is in seven categories:  Best Feature Film, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Narrative, Best Emerging Film, New Gate Inspiration Award, and TWE Team Choice.

Where: Online, on-demand March 8-12 at EVENTIVE .

In theaters Friday, March 8, 5-9 PM, Ringling College of Art and Design, Larry R. Thompson Academic Center, Morganroth Auditorium

Saturday and Sunday all day, Sarasota Art Museum, SHS Alumni Auditorium. See here for tickets.

Ticket Costs

All-access, full festival pass, IN-THEATERS ONLY: $125

All-access, full festival pass, ONLINE VIEWING ONLY: $145

Five film pass: $50

Single film block: $12

Buy Tickets Here

Through Women’s Eyes is a 501c3 advocacy organization dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality. Learn more at Net festival proceeds support women’s rights and gender equality programs.

~ Andrea Martone is  a board member and the Director of Communication and marking (volunteer) for the film festival.

Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.