Festival plans to celebrate women in film

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BELOIT - This year's Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) will have an informal sub-theme of the celebration of women in film, according to Executive Director Marty Densch and Artistic Director Greg Gerard.

This year's films were made possible by many directors, producers and actors who are women. The films also feature subject matter focused on women's empowerment.

Melissa Houghton, the executive director of Women in Film and Video in Washington DC, will be joining BIFF at 2:30 p.m. on March 2 in the rooftop room at the Hotel Goodwin to lead a panel with female filmmakers attending BIFF. The lively discussion will focus on how far women have come in the industry, where they are going and, likely, talk of what the #MeToo movement has meant for women in film.

"The epicenter of the #MeToo movement seemed to be Hollywood," Gerard added. "It came on the heels of women's marches that sprung up after President Donald Trump was elected."

Densch said films with the sub-theme of women's empowerment will be denoted in the program book and on the website with a special symbol.

One of the films that deal with women's struggles is a Hungarian Film called "Eternal Winter," a narrative film set in World War II when the Soviet Union came into Hungary and kidnapped people of German heritage. The film tells the story of a woman who was kidnapped and who was forced to work in Russian coal mines. The film is based on true events and shows how she survived and the choices she had to make to do so.

Densch said the narrative "Radium Girls," talks about effects on women who were hired to paint the radium markings on watch faces for glow-in-the dark watches before the health dangers of the substance were discovered.

"Hello Girls" will tell the story of the 200 women who worked for the Army Signal Corps in World War I as telephone operators. About 200 women were recruited to work near front lines. There was at least one casualty among their ranks.

"It's a little known story," Densch said.

Densch said the Army refused to treat the women as veterans at the end of the war, although they later obtained military status.

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