Movies » Movie Previews

Film preview: High Falls Women's Film Festival


The High Falls Women's Film Festival returns for another year of spotlighting movies made by or about women. This year the festival will present eight narrative features, six documentary features, and four shorts programs, beginning on Thursday, October 31, and continuing through Sunday, November 3.

Over the course of four days, attendees will also be able to enjoy talkbacks, coffee chats, award presentations, parties, and more. All film screenings will take place at The Little Theatre. Ticket information and a full schedule of films and events can be found at

Read on for a few of the highlights from this year's festival.

Directed by Bridgette Auger and Itab Azzam, "We Are Not Princesses" seeks to find a personal angle on the Syrian refugee crisis. The touching documentary tells the stories of several Syrian women living as refugees in Beirut who find a renewed sense of freedom and purpose through their participation in a theater production of the Greek tragedy, "Antigone."

In that story, Anitgone learns that her two brothers have killed each other in battle. The new king refuses to bury the conflict's instigator, Polynices, or even allow him to be mourned. Antigone chooses to break the king's law and properly bury her brother, leading the king to sentence her to death for her actions. Though he soon has a change of heart, it's too late and Antigone has tragically taken her own life.

As the theater production goes on, the women find striking parallels to their own lives in the story of Antigone. Combining intimate conversations and segments of animation (which beautifully illustrate interviews with the women too afraid to be seen on camera), the film offers an eye-opening and ultimately inspiring look into refugee experience, as the women connect with one another and discover an unexpected new outlet to express themselves. (Thursday, October 31, 4:30 p.m.)

Opening night selection "Mother's Little Helpers" is a warm, witty, and wise take on the dysfunctional family dramedy. Four adult siblings reunite, coming together to support their estranged mother after she's diagnosed with a terminal illness and learns she has only weeks left to live. Director KestrinPantera also stars in this heartfelt story about love, loss, and the deep bonds of family.

Preceding that feature will be the presentation of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton "Thorn in the Side" Award, which honors women who exemplify the collaborative nature of film and video. This year's recipient is Catherine Wyler, founding Artistic Director of the High Falls Film Festival. (Thursday, October 31, 6:30 p.m.)

The charmingly lowkey mystery "Snaeland" finds a disgraced journalist who travels on assignment to a small Icelandic fishing village. When he meets a woman he suspects is actually a former French nanny who was believed to have killed herself after being accused of murdering a child in her care, it seems he may have stumbled upon a story juicy enough to reignite his stagnant career. Director Lise Raven will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. (Friday, November 1, 7:15 p.m.)

"The Eagle and the Condor" is an ancient prophecy shared by many Indigenous people that says when the "Eagle" of North America and the "Condor" of South America unite, the spirit of peace will awaken on Earth. The stirring documentary "The Condor & The Eagle" follows four environmental leaders as they embark on a trans-continental journey to unite Indigenous people in support of the environmental justice movement. A discussion with Mindy Magyar (Mi'kmaq), assistant professor of Industrial Design at RIT and board member of Friends of Ganondagan, will follow. (Saturday, November 2, 3:15 p.m.)

Emily Ting's funny and sweet semi-autobiographical comedy "Go Back to China" follows spoiled rich girl Sasha Li (Anna Akana) after she's cut off financially by her father and forced to return to China and work for the family toy business. What follows is a journey of self-discovery, as the trip allows Sasha to find new passion and reconnect with her estranged family.

Before the feature will be the presentation of the Rochester Film Legacy Award, which honors a Rochester-based filmmaker or film supporter whose passion and dedication embodies the city's proud film legacy. This year's recipient is renowned Democrat and Chronicle film critic Jack Garner. (Saturday, November 2, 7 p.m.)

"Under Construction" is a touching character study about Roya (Shahana Goswami), a veteran stage actress who's played the central character of Rabindranath Tagore's political play "Red Oleanders" for years. But when the director decides she's getting too old for the part, Roya is forced to reevaluate her own identity and construct a new role for herself. Director Rubaiyat Hossain will participate in a Q&A after the screening. (Sunday, November 3, at 2:45 p.m.)

The High Falls screening of "Under Construction" will coincide with the photography exhibition "FRAME: How Asia Pacific Feminist Filmmakers and Artists Are Confronting Inequalities." The exhibit, which features work by "Under Construction" director Rubaiyat Hossain, showcases eight Asia Pacific feminist screen creatives and explores their unique approaches to confronting inequality through their work, both in front of and behind the camera.