The 38th Créteil International Women’s Film Festival (“Créteil Films de Femmes”) in Paris opened on March 18 and runs through March 27. Festival director Jackie Buet and programmer Norma Guevara have created a rich pageant again this year starting off with a sold-out concert featuring “Ibeyi” at the Maison des Arts de Créteil. The French Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz performed original compositions on the piano and percussion instruments, the Cajon and Batas in a riveting multimedia show. Their musical inspiration comes from their father, the late acclaimed Cuban conga master Anga Diaz and the chants he learned from the Yorùbá tradition in Nigeria transported through the Atlantic slave trade to his country.
The concert by Ibeyi was an extraordinary manifestation of music with soulful lyrics and powerful ballads. Naomi Diaz and Lisa Kaindé Diaz engage with brilliant percussion work and use the body as instrument and the voice as beats, commanding the stage with their virtuosity and outstanding voice and range. The public was both mesmerized and inwardly moved by the lyrics and music; intermittently, explosions of resounding applause were accompanied by dancing in the aisles. Each precious song with enchanting poetic lyrics and creative use of instrument and voice is often in the form of prayer, such as to the Yorùbán Orisha Oyà who lives in the Niger River. There are homages to the Yorùbán diaspora and references to the pain of losing relations. Optimism was abundant for the joy of living and love. Ibeyi’s concert schedule includes performances in the US, Mexico and Europe.
The Créteil lineup this year includes a feature, documentary and short film international competition. The festival has a long standing special youth jury in the section “Graine de Cinéphage” composed of high school students.
Commemorations to the late Chantal Akerman (October 5, 20115), a previous guest at Créteil, include the documentary “I Don’t Belong Anywhere – Le cinéma de Chantal Akerman” by Marianne Lambert (Belgium 2015). Guest of honor Aurore Clément who worked with Chantal Akerman in “Les Rendez vous d’Anna”met with the public March 19 in a festive evening followed by a screening of Akerman’s classic film. The acclaimed actress has starred in over 89 films with directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, François Ozon and Claude Chabrol.
Créteil creates unique editions at each year’s festival honoring the achievements of women in film with memorable meetings with excellent filmmakers, artists and film workers. Films are arranged according to significant themes including women in film in geographical areas such the Mediterranean, the Antipodes, and Scandinavia. Last year actress Béatrice Dalle was special guest (“Bye Bye Blondie” by Virginie Despentes, and “Trouble Every Day” by Claire Denis) and themes such as “Equitable Actresses”, “Turbulence”. This year’s theme “Musical Journeys” includes Chantal Akerman’s “Golden Eighties”, Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog”, Amy Berg’s “Janis”, Xavier Giannoli’s “Marguerite”, and Liz Garbes’ “What Happened Miss Simon”. A “Master Class” was held March 19 with composer Beatrice Thiriet, who will meet with the public March 20. Directly after will be a screening of “Bird People” directed by Pascal Ferran (France 2015) with Thiriet’s score.
Créteil partners with other women’s film festivals around the world. This year together with the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, Créteil features a selection of exceptional film at this year’s festival.
The special atmosphere of the Créteil festival with a focus on women in film is a long standing collaborative effort that is the largest continuous pageant of films made by women in the world.