Film festival remembers women killed in Montreal Massacre

In partnership with York’s Winters College, the Female Eye Film Festival will commemorate the Dec. 6 Montreal Massacre with seven films by national and international female directors, along with a panel discussion, to be held this Thursday, Dec. 6.

The program, In Memoriam of the Montreal Massacre, is designed to remember the 14 women killed there 18 years ago. All of the films look at issues of violence against women. A question and answer period with the directors will follow the screenings. The program will take place at the Nat Taylor Cinema, North 102 Ross Building, on the Keele campus

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine walked into l’École Polytechnique, a Montreal engineering school, separated the men from the women and opened fire. He shot 27 women, 14 of whom died. In 1991, Canada’s Parliament declared Dec. 6 a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

Right: A scene from the film Savage

The Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF) began in 2001 and is Ontario’s only annual international independent women’s film festival; this is its second annual event to mark Dec. 6.

The program runs from 4 to 10pm. The first film is Savage, a two-minute short directed by Magie Matulic, based on her poem about a failed relationship as a result of domestic violence. It is followed by the 75-minute documentary Amina directed by Khadija Al-Salami about a women who spends nine years in an Arab prison awaiting execution.

Director Jehan S. Harney’s 27-minute documentary Sterile Dreams is next, about the lives of several minority Roma women who have been scarred by illegal sterilization in the Czech Republic. A 10-minute excerpt of Breaking the Silence, directed by Fiona Otway, follows. It’s a documentary written, shot, directed and edited by youth from the island of St. Lucia, with the help of Otway, about why girls are the fastest-growing risk group for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

Left: Scene from the documentary Breaking the Silence

From 6:30 to 8pm, a panel discussion will take place, titled "Women of Violence", with Beverly Wybrow of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Brena Parnes of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, Lisa Rosenberg, course director in the Department of Women’s Studies at Glendon and an adjunct professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies, and Paulett Ramsey of the YWCA Dec. 6 Fund.

Right: A still from the film Amina

Three more films will screen from 8 to 10pm, starting with the 14-minute docudrama Abeer, directed by Elizabeth Lazebnik, a graduate of York’s film and video production program, and co-written and co-produced by Rebecca Hayden. It looks at the kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by American soldiers in 2006, as told by three North American girls.

Next is Cruel and Unusual, directed by Janet Baus and Dan Hunt, a 65-minute documentary about the challenges faced by pre-op transgender women when placed in men’s correctional facilities. The final film of the evening, SASA!, is a 30-minute documentary directed by Chandra Chevannes that explores the link between domestic violence and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Filmgoers are invited to join filmmakers and panellists in the Grad Lounge in the Ross Building for a reception following the program.

Right: Jehan S. Harney

The event is pay what you can with a suggested donation of $10. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Anduhyaun Native Women’s Shelter, which offers a comprehensive range of programs and services to abused women and their children.

In addition to commemorating the 14 women killed, Dec. 6 is a time for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in society and to consider those women and girls who live with violence daily.

These are the women murdered during the Montreal Massacre: Anne St-Arneault, 23; Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klueznick, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; and Annie Turcotte, 21.

For more information on the Dec. 6 program, co-sponsored by the Office of the Master at Winters, visit the Female Eye Film Festival Web site.