This year’s Olympia Film Festival is focusing on females. From the comical “Clueless” (9 p.m. Nov. 11) to the crusading “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste” (1 p.m. Nov. 19), every film in the 34th annual festival was made by a filmmaker who identifies as female or non-binary.
It’s a particularly timely topic in light of Harvey Weinstein, #metoo and Jessica Chastain’s critique of the Cannes Film Festival but the decision wasn’t a response to any of that, said Audrey Henley, executive director of the Olympia Film Society, which presents the festival.
“It wasn’t a political movement or a political message from us here at the film society,” she said in a phone interview last week. “The idea was to celebrate women filmmakers.”
One factor was the way women have been underrepresented at festivals, said film programmer Rob Patrick, who suggested the focus. A recent study conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film found that women made only 29 percent of independent films featured at 23 festivals of various sizes.
“There seems to be more quality content being produced by women right now, whether that be in film or music or art,” he said. “That’s not to say that men aren’t producing quality and interesting work, but a lot of them seem to be focusing on a well-tread road.”
The festival opens Nov. 10 with “Smithereens,” the first American independent film to compete at Cannes. The 1982 feature is a gritty portrait of New York City as experienced by an opportunistic runaway, played by Susan Berman, who’ll attend the screening and answer questions afterward.
The 10-days film festival covers a vast range of territories and topics. The beautifully rendered “The Secret of Kells” (11 a.m. Nov. 11) is about a young monk who has wild adventures while helping with the creation of the Book of Kells. The Brazilian “Kill Me Please” (9 p.m. Nov. 13) is part horror movie, part coming-of-age drama and part high-school sex comedy.
The documentaries include topics you’d expect to find in the festival, such as social justice (“Free CeCe,” about a transgender woman incarcerated in a men’s prison, 1 p.m. Nov. 18) and edgy music (“L7: Pretend We’re Dead,” about the all-female grunge band, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11) and some you might not, such as roller skating in Venice Beach (“Roller Dreams,” 2 p.m. Nov. 12) and step dancing in Baltimore (“Step,” 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17).
There are two concerts — one by local favorite Kimya Dawson and another by Seattle pop-punk sensation Lisa Prank — and a free Locals Only screening, including horror flick “Buzzard Hollow Beef” and three macabre shorts.
Amid all of the beauty, blood and glitter, this year’s festival has a serious and even scholarly side. The printed program offers in-depth interviews Patrick conducted with female and non-binary filmmakers, critics and more, some of whom will attend the festival and others who won’t.
Closing-night events include a Focus on Women Symposium, with a panel of filmmakers, critics and film programmers from the Northwest and beyond (5 p.m. Nov. 19).
“It’s about where the industry is going,” Patrick said. “I think that’s going to be extremely important and interesting.”
Olympia Film Festival
What: The 34th annual festival celebrates women in film with 10 days of screenings and events, including a kid-friendly concert by Kimya Dawson and a forum exploring the roles of female and non-binary people on and off screen.
When: Friday, Nov. 10 through Nov. 19
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia
Tickets: Most screenings and events are $10-$12 general admission, $7-$9 for Olympia Film Society members and students, $5 for children 12 and younger. Children are admitted free to Kids Club films. Full and partial passes are $30-$150.
More information: 360-754-6670, olympiafilmfestival.org
▪ “Smithereens” and Q&A with star Susan Berman — 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10. $15, $12 for members and students, $5 for children.
▪ Kimya Dawson — 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. $10, $7 for members and students, $5 for children.
▪ Locals Only: Four Macabre Marvels — 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. Free.
▪ Focus on Women Symposium — 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17. $12, $9 for members and students, $5 for children.
▪ Lisa Prank — 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17. $10, $7 for members and students.