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MadCat Film Festival gives female directors a close-up

In its 7th year, MadCat Film Festival continues its avant-garde,
experimental screenings of international women’s films. The film
collections premiered in San Francisco on Sept. 9, and delivered
festival director and curator Ariella Ben-Dov’s mission of female

“I started MadCat to provide a venue for cutting edge women
directors,” said Ben-Dov, “I had gone to screenings and festivals
locally, and noticed that these venues were screening a
disproportionate number of men to women. Anecdotally I knew this
was not because women were not making interesting work.” The
festival, set apart from other women’s festivals because of its 12
thematically constructed programs, is being screened at multiple
venues in San Francisco and Berkeley.

MadCat’s only parameter is that a woman directs the film or
video. “Most women’s film festivals focus on work with female
protagonists or that touch on traditional ‘women’s issues.’ At
MadCat we are looking for work that challenges the use of sound and
image and explores notions of visual story telling,” Ben-Dov

One film, “Nikita Kino,” shown on Sept. 19 as part of the
“Divided Spaces” program, is an interesting array of technique,
color and light. Russian filmmaker Vivian Ostrovsky uses quick
pans, cuts and home video footage, interlaced with commercial
footage and film. The film shifts back and forth from color to
black and white, through Ostrovsky’s narration.

Told from Ostrovsky’s viewpoint, the film aims to reveal the
realities that Russian citizens faced from the 1960s to the early
1980s. Ostrovsky, who lives in the U.S., offers us a glimpse into
the lives of her family that still live in Russia. Her home video
footage, taken during visits, delivers a dose of documentary-style
realism, while juxtaposing it with Russian propaganda. Another film
screened in the “Divided Spaces” program is “New York’s Big Back
Yard,” where Central Park’s variety of uses in the 1980s are
explored. Everything from weddings to anti-nuclear war protests is
depicted against the lush, beautiful landscape in this near
14-minute film.

In “Moose Mountain,” an airplane guides the viewer through a
fantastic visual journey across the world and throughout

“My Hero,” a one-minute abstract artwork comes with some advice,
“don’t blink.”

MadCat runs through Oct. 5 in San Francisco and Berkeley, and
will make a stop at Mills in the spring. For more information, go