Experiencing Womanhood Collectively: Review of Feminist Filmmaking screening at Havana Glasgow Film Festival

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Words: Amelia Morek (she/her)

Imagine being in excruciating pain each month. 

The kind of suffering that makes you collapse on a cold bathroom floor – wailing, sobbing, whimpering in pain – unable to get off.

The worst thing is that you cannot escape it. It comes from within you. Coming to your pelvis and outward, reaching the entire body. The endless cycle of cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, and spasms that leave no sanctuary.

Month after month. Year after year. Birthday after birthday. Growing up becomes torture as you watch your 20s pass by, clinging desperately to a hot water bottle.

The pain is too agonising for you to work. Sick days pile up and your employer is not quite happy about that. How could they not question your reliability? ‘Don’t bother coming in tomorrow.’

You are trapped by your own body, like a chronic illness overtaking your private and professional life. You cannot function normally.

You seek help, or at least answers. You constantly call and walk into a GP’s office. Never-ending line and putting on hold. Time after time you seem to leave empty-handed. There seems to be no answers explaining what’s wrong, explaining why you are in so much suffering. Instead, they hit you with: ‘Is it unreasonable to consider it might just be all up there?’

The short film directed by Bonnie Macrae screened as part of the Havana Glasgow Film Festival, specifically its Feminist Filmmakers programme, in a short coming-of-age story that, with its snappy format, captures an experience of a woman suffering endometriosis. Under the flawed UK healthcare system, the diagnosis process takes eight years on average, sentencing women to live without the proper health care they need.

This deeply personal narrative inspired by Macrae’s own experience living with the illness depicts the largely ignored matter that affects over 1,5 million people in the UK alone, whose condition remains completely disregarded. 

The screening, hosted on 17 November at CCA, created an inclusive space for filmmakers like Macrae to amplify their voices and speak up about their issues. The event used a collaborative format to allow feminist activists and creators from across the world to connect through the creation and exhibition of their work. Collaboration, as seen in this screening, isn’t merely about artistic partnership: it outgrows that idea to become a harmonious fuse of diverse perspectives. It thus allows the possibility of fostering a community of creators celebrating the richness of their individual perspectives and unique personal experiences. Collaborative artistic work exceeds the limitations of space and subjective exclusion and instead embraces access and interpersonal connections. 

This concept of collaborative community shaped the curatorial approach to the whole event. There was a space for a selection of Scottish feminist films which offered a wide selection of topics covered. Among many incredible films, a few locally produced pieces from Glasgow found their places, such as Macrae’s All Up There, or Sarah Grant’s Candy, centred around the reclamation of female sexuality and empowerment; both truly shining and charming their audience with a unique, snappy, and feminine edge. But the programme also showcased an outgoing creative exchange between women in Matanzas and Havana in Cuba, Villanova in Spain and Glasgow, using low-budget collaborative filmmaking techniques across borders to connect and allow issues of many communities to be raised. The screening included an unfinished project, waiting for further production and exhibition across countries, ending with an open invitation to this and future audiences to join the collaboration. In a way, it fosters a ‘global network of support and solidarity amongst feminist activists and collectives’, always open for new creators to join the dialogue by contributing and expanding the project’s reach.

This event inspired me to think about the huge possibilities of connection and celebration of feminist narratives through collaborative creation, thus I will allow myself to extend the invitation to you. Let’s engage, contribute, and collaborate to tell the stories that need to be heard, however painful they may be.


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