Gynecology and Guns:
The Woodstock Film Festival's Exploration of Gender Depiction in Short Film
by Patricia Freeman
Two of the more interesting programs at the "fiercely independent" festival on Saturday, October 1st were "Shorts: Woman" and "Shorts: Man." The festival creators have expertly realized that shorts capitalize on what Edgar Allan Poe calls the single "consideration of an effect". Shorts have a limited amount of time to build their narrative and make a lasting point. To this end, the Woodstock Film Festival thematically organized these films around the social and biological constructs of gender. The series opened with the "Woman" shorts about issues of female sexuality and body image, whereas the "Man" series offers insights into men's understandings of violence, emotion, and loss from a testosterone-driven point of view.
Ending the "Women" series were two semi-autobiographical tales about the difficulty of female adolescence. The first, "Twitch," written and directed by Leah Meyerhoff, tells the poignant story of a young girl torn between two worlds: her domestic life where she must care for her wheelchair-bound mother and her escape into the emerging world of sexuality with her eager, hormone-addled boyfriend. Concerned that her mother's disability is contagious due to her own twitching leg, the young girl seeks out advice from her gynecologist who feebly allays her fears. The director's own mother, a victim of MS, plays the mother with a stark reality that is haunting to watch, and Emma Galvin, who plays the daughter, captures the girl's struggles with an understated command that belies the hidden turmoil of adolescent angst that tortures her character.
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