Lloyd Marken is a freelance writer with a passion for the arts who has been published with Scenestr, Heavy, Buzz, X-Press, FilmInk and Weekend Notes. Visit my blog at https://lloydmarken.wordpress.com/
The Brisbane International Film Festival held a special preview screening of Woman At War the day before opening night. A delightful movie from Iceland which sounds heavy on paper, it proves supremely touching and full of mirth. Audience members were welcomed at the door by Artistic Director Amanda Slack-Smith, who enthused about the film and the festival at large in the Q&A with journalist Frances Whiting that pre-empted the screening.
The passion and joy in the film that Ms Slack-Smith displays is infectious and her team have created a fantastic array of cinema to dive into over the 11-day program. There will be something for everyone at the Brisbane International Film Festival running October 11-21 with over 100 films from 6 continents, many workshops and Q&As with Festival Patrons Bruce Beresford and Sue Milliken. From documentaries about New York libraries to fashion designers, from Australian world premieres to Chinese crime stories, from European tales of survival in the Arctic to forbidden African lesbian love stories the festival will have something for everyone. On Wednesday night it began with a lone Scandinavian woman armed with a bow and arrow fighting to protect the world for future generations.
Woman At War stars Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as choir conductor Halla who moonlights as an eco-terrorist taking down power lines of a nearby plant to dissuade foreign investment and further ravaging of farmland. We see the central character always cool under pressure and smart in survival skills. Yet there is a growing sense that the authorities net is drawing closer and now is as a good a time as any to call it a day. The film-makers help you sympathise with Halla and admire her but also fear she is out of her depth. As that tension tightens, Halla is faced with a new development that a long forgotten application to adopt a child has been approved.
The film has a wonderful subtle underline about the way women of a certain age are viewed and the choices they have to navigate. She is in a job that is artistic and nurturing and in her spare time she carries out rebellious and dangerous acts. She appears to have no social group outside of work besides her twin sister. In a telling dichotomy, she releases information to the masses of her actions unseen and hidden and yet shows openly the child she is set to adopt with pride to her small choir. The reactions are telling too.
That makes it sounds like a movie heavy with ideas and statements yet director Benedikt Erlingsson displays a light touch and good sense of humour. There's a running gag involving a foreigner and the music in Halla's head as she carries out her deeds. Ultimately Woman At War is character driven and in Halla, we have a character to root for and a performance that makes us completely understand what she is going through. This film charms and delights and is just one example of the many delights on offer at this year's BIFF.