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Through Women's Eyes film fest unspools 25th edition

E. Scott Osborne is president of the Through Women's Eyes Film Festival.
E. Scott Osborne is president of the Through Women's Eyes Film Festival.
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What’s old is new again. For its 25th anniversary, the Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival is bringing back 10 of its greatest hits and screening 22 new films.

The festival’s opening night is Friday, March 8, at Ringling College of Art and Design’s Morganroth Auditorium. That event, which includes a reception, will honor some of the women who have kept the fest going over the years.

Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival moves to the Sarasota Art Museum for the remainder of the festival’s run through March 12.

Because many of the films in the festival are shorts, meaning less than 40 minutes long, the selections are screening in blocks that bundle several movies together. They can also be watched online.

Although the festival’s title is “Through Women’s Eyes,” the films are about a broad range of topics says E. Scott Osborne, president of the fest, which is dedicated to promoting gender equality through film. 

“Many of our films are on very broad topics,” Osborne says. “They are not just for a female audience. We try to bring in marginalized voices.”

Some of the threads running through the programming of this year’s festival include the environment, motherhood, refugees and the disparity between healthcare available to Black and white women.

Three of the films in the festival are set in Afghanistan. Osborne says she has a soft spot for “When Mama’s Gone,” a Turkish film about what happens to an Afghani family when the mother dies in childbirth.

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“Undivide Us” is one of the most anticipated screenings of the festival, Osborne says. “It asks whether we, as Americans, can talk to each other about current events in a civil, constructive manner,” she says. “Can we find common ground, regardless of our politics?”

Among the favorites coming back are “Piscina” (“Pool”), a Brazilian film that screened in the 2017 festival about a girl examining her grandmother’s past.

“Viola,” which tells the story of farmer’s daughter in rural Alabama who takes control of her destiny, is another golden oldie being brought back for this year’s event.

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Following the interest in the Manhattan Project generated by the 2023 Hollywood blockbuster “Oppenheimer,” the women’s film festival decided to revive “Atomic Mom,” which screened in 2011. 

The film explores the experiences of two different women who were involved in the nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. on Japan during World War II — a scientist involved in the development of the weapon and a Hiroshima survivor.

Osborne said she is personally looking forward to the revival of “Book Club,” which first screened at the 2012 festival. It tells the story of eight women whose lives were entwined by a book club that was formed 70 years earlier.

Given Sarasota’s role as a cultural center, Osborne expects two films about the arts to find favor with audiences. The first is “Colliding Forces,” about ballet moms, and the other is “Change the Tune,” a Canadian film about female jazz performers.

The programming for Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival is done by volunteer screeners, who watched more than 400 films, Osborne says. 

When the festival was first started 25 years ago, film submissions came in the form of DVDs that were sent back and forth through the mail by members of the selection committee, Osborne notes. “Technology has changed so much over the years,” she says.

The advent of the streaming market means people can easily find niche content that they are interested in online, Osborne says. But people still want to come to film festivals and enjoy the communal experience of watching movies together, she says.

The role of an institution such as the women’s film festival is to curate compelling content that draws audiences, Osborne says. 

Sarasota audiences have a reputation for dedication. Many attendees will come to the women’s film festival and watch movies all day, she notes.



Monica Roman Gagnier

Monica Roman Gagnier is the arts and entertainment editor of the Observer. Previously, she covered A&E in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the Albuquerque Journal and film for industry trade publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

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