Mind the Gap at MVFF Shows How Women in Film Pave the Way Forward

Women’s representation in film has never been more important than it is now. In a year rife with debate over women’s rights and gender equality, cinema offers a unique opportunity for women filmmakers to share their stories in the purest, most poetic way, in the pursuit of empathy and understanding.

“The films that we have in the festival very much feel like they’re speaking to the moment that we’re in,” says Osinachi Ibe, Production Manager for Mind the Gap, MVFF’s gender equity and inclusion platform. “Watching some of these films is cathartic because these artists are responding to what’s going on in our world and showing the way forward.” 

Celebrating female, nonbinary and underrepresented filmmakers from across the globe, Mind the Gap amplifies women’s voices in a variety of ways. In addition to the dozens of female-directed films in the festival lineup, there’s The Directors Forum, a panel featuring female directors engaging in thoughtful conversation and analysis about the film industry, a Film Financing Case Study panel demystifying the process of financing independent films, and a focus on the evolution of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s roles onscreen.

Since its official launch in 2015, Mind the Gap has become a major presence at MVFF, with films that offer invaluable insight into social and political issues surrounding women. “A lot of the films at the festival this year that fall under the scope of Mind the Gap really speak to what’s going on right now in the world,” Ibe says. “Some of the films look back in time at some things that happened in the past that feel a lot like what’s going on today, and some cover more contemporary issues around racism, abortion and a women’s right to choose. These artists are responding to what’s going on in our world and showing the way forward.”

This year has been a particularly fraught year for women in the sociopolitical space, and the programming team at MVFF feel privileged to be able to feature female stories that hold up a mirror to society and address some of the more heated debates raging across the country.

“I remember the day that we found out that Roe v. Wade had been overturned,” Ibe recalls. “We showed up to a meeting and took a moment to reflect on how grateful we are to work in a space in which we have the ability to facilitate opportunities for people to be empathetic. You watch a film, and it gives you insight into someone’s life who is nothing like you. You make the connection, and you’re open to a different way of living. I think that when people watch these films it will energize them and make them feel seen.”

Mind the Gap Highlights

Nanny, directed by Nikyatu Jusu

Women In Film

Immigrant horror story Nanny stars Anna Diop as a Senegalese nanny in Manhattan who rubs the upper-crust white couple who employ her the wrong way, clinging onto her roots as she fights to make her American dream a reality on her own terms.

The Unknown Country, directed by Morrisa Maltz

Women In Film

This hybrid documentary/narrative feature follows a young woman (Lily Gladstone) who goes on a road trip through the Midwest to the Texas-Mexico border, reeling from the loss of her grandmother.

One Fine Morning, directed by Mia Hansen Løve 

Women In Film

Lea Seydoux stars as Sandra, a young single mother who cares for her 8-year-old daughter and ailing father. She sparks a new romance with an old friend who happens to be married and struggles to find balance between her familial duties and her steamy affair.

Bernard Boo

Bernard Boo is an AAPI arts and entertainment critic, Bay Area native and proud member of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle. Find more of his work at PopMatters, Den of Geek and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to him on the Your Asian Best Friends podcast.