Remembering the ladies

The Baltimore Sun

Seven years into her job putting together film festivals throughout the world, Marisa Cohen noticed that they rarely featured work by women.

"There has been a real lack of female filmmakers," says the Baltimore native, who works for the Florida-based HD Fest, organizers of high-definition film festivals in New York, London, Australia and Seoul, South Korea. "Especially in mainstream films, you don't see a lot."

Galvanized by the low profile of female filmmakers, she and a friend have organized the inaugural Baltimore Women's Film Festival. Come October, it will showcase such diverse programming as documentaries, the first episode of a coming TV series and feature films - and will benefit breast cancer research.

"We wanted to do something to equalize the equation," said festival co-founder Deanna Shapiro.

The idea came up this past winter, while the two longtime pals were having one of their frequent telephone chats. Cohen proposed the idea of staging a festival back in her hometown. Shapiro, who still lives in Baltimore, suggested donating some of the proceeds to the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, where she had done some research work.

"I thought it would be really good to do something back in Baltimore," Cohen says, "and giving some money to breast cancer research in the process makes it even better."

Some 50 films - all written, directed or produced by women - are scheduled to be shown during the two-day festival, set for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13 and 14, at the Baltimore Museum of Art and at Red Emma's 2640 coffeehouse, at 2640 St. Paul St. Tickets are $10 per film, with half going to the Hopkins center.

Expected festival highlights include:

The first episode of Terminal City, directed by Baltimore native Rachel Talalay. The series, to premiere on the Sundance Channel next year, revolves around a fictional reality-TV show and looks at issues surrounding breast cancer. (1 p.m. Oct. 14, BMA.)

9/Tenths, from director Bob Degus and writer Michele McGuire, stars Gabrielle Anwar and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond on TV's Lost) as a wealthy couple trying to move far away from the terrorist attacks that are decimating their world. (4 p.m. Oct. 14, BMA.)

Non People, from Greek director Elena Karathanasi, stars Bita Taghavi as a woman who emigrates to the United Kingdom illegally and struggles to eke out a living. (11 a.m. Oct. 13, Red Emma's, part of the "Dramatic Short Films" program.)

Miss Lil's Camp, from directors Suzanne Niedland and Anberin Pasha, profiles Lillian Smith, the director of an exclusive summer camp for girls from upper-class Southern families, who espoused desegregation at a time many of her young campers (and their parents) didn't want to hear about it. (11 a.m. Oct. 14, BMA, part of the "Documentary Films Showcase.")

For more information on the 2007 Baltimore Women's Film Festival, go to

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