The Power of Wanda – From Filmmaker Barbara Loden

Together with the Dublin Feminist Film Festival, the IFI is holding a special screening of Wanda on May 20th at 13.30. Here, Dublin Feminist Film Festival director Karla Healion writes about the enduring power of Barbara Loden’s 1970 feature.

We started the Dublin Feminist Film Festival four years ago for two reasons, firstly as a charity fund-raising event for a great organisation in Nepal called Sasane. And secondly, although not secondarily, to celebrate women in film both behind and in front of the camera.

We felt it was vital to not only recognise the need for interesting, complex female characters on-screen, but also that women behind the camera, at integral high-level creative roles within filmmaking, need to be supported. It’s simply not good enough that women represent such a tiny fraction of directors and writers, and only fare a bit better in other primary roles such as production and editing.

There are so many examples of men’s work celebrated (most festival programmes will predominantly feature male filmmakers) that we want to put the work of women, as cultural producers, as makers, as vital creative voices, at the forefront also.

Thankfully there’s a huge amount of fantastic work from female filmmakers to enjoy and celebrate. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to screen one such piece with the IFI this month. The under-appreciated classic Wanda, written, directed by and starring Barbara Loden in 1970.

It’s an aesthetic beauty, shot in 16mm blown up to 35mm, the ‘70s colours – aquamarine, orange, white, brown – saturated through Loden’s gritty hand-held verite style camera. Her ability to portray an imperfect women, in Wanda, lost in so many ways, but also in control of her life, is arguably unmatched on screen.

There’s so much to the film that we’ll be having a chat afterwards [Alice Butler from the IFI, Tara Brady from the Irish Times and Karla Healion from the Dublin Feminist Film Festival] about the themes and notes that Loden hits with this subtle and wonderful film, particularly in Wanda as a point of departure from the ‘strong female character’ that has dogged recent approaches to female representation.

We’ll also chat about the reception of the film internationally, as it is (only in very recent years) heralded as a modern classic that has been shamefully underrated. Until now, that is.

Wanda screens at the IFI with panel discussion on Saturday the 20th of May 2017 at 13.30. Tickets and info here.


The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland