Berlin-based M-Appeal will be hitting Toronto with a pair of topical female-driven films premiering at the festival, Ash Mayfair’s “The Third Wife” and Michal Aviad’s “Working Woman.”
Dedicated to promoting new female voices in the festival circuit and around the world, M-Appeal is also repping Hella Joof’s “Happy Ending” and Albertia Carri’s “The Daughters of Fire,” and is continuing sales on Fanny Metlelius’s Swedish coming-of-age romance drama “The Heart.”
“Our experience shows that there are many exciting films out there made by women, telling stories that appeal to a largely female audience eager to see films reflecting their own realities which are not visible enough,” said
Maren Kroymann, managing director of M-Appeal.
Kroymann pointed M-Appeal’s current slate “comprises 5 titles directed by very promising female filmmakers, some of whom are already established but others who are emerging talents.” “The audience is ready for stories told from a female perspective,” said the executive.
“The Third Wife,” which will play in Toronto’s Discovery section, is set in 19th century rural Vietnam, and follows 14-year-old May who becomes the third wife of wealthy landowner Hung. May soon learns that she can only gain status by asserting herself as a woman who can give birth to a male child.
“It is a dark coming-of-age story, a tale of love and self-discovery in a time when women were rarely given a voice. The themes of women’s sexuality, the growth from childhood to adulthood and the individual’s struggle within a conservative patriarchal society have always fascinated me,” said Mayfair, who is one of the rare female directors from Vietnam to be acknowledged on the international scene.
“I grew up in Vietnam, a society that held traditions, history, and community to be more valuable than personal independence. The heroine of this story embarks on a journey where her identity must assume many roles, that of a child, a woman, a wife, a lover, and eventually a mother,” added Mayfair.
The long-gestated movie received the Spike Lee Film Production Fund in 2014 and won a post-production grant from the Jerome foundation in New York last year. Following Toronto, “The Third Wife” will have play at San Sebastian in the New Directors section.
Meanwhile, “Working Woman,” which is set for Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section, centers on a mother of three who is being sexually harassed by her boss at work and is forced to cope with it as her husband struggles to keep his new restaurant afloat.
“I wanted to put a magnifying glass on routine sexual harassment in the workplace and find out what it looks like,” said Aviad, whose credits include “Invisibles” which played at the 2012 Berlinale Panorama.
“With the rise of the #metoo movement, women feel more empowered less afraid to speak up and there is a lot more interest for female stories told from a female perspective,” said Kroymann, while acknowledging that many distributors and festival programmers still have to warm up to certain female-oriented narratives which can have a different pace and a more subtle approach than films helmed by men.