If there was one thing I’ve learned in superheroes movies when growing up, it’s “with great power comes great responsibility”. As a significant role of celebrating different cultures and raising awareness of societal issues, film festivals are capable of setting up influential mediums to start public discussion on certain phenomenon. This is my first impression of MIFF when I attended my very first film screening of The Tale.
Based on true stories of the director and writer Jennifer Fox, The Tale chronicles a woman’s powerful investigation into her own adolescent relationship with her two childhood coaches: a horse riding instructor and her friend and track coach. She accidentally discovered the letters she wrote when she was young and tried to find out what truly happened to the lost memory. Two timelines interweave with one another as the story progresses to reveal the depressing truth about the sexual abuse and rape. I have to admit this film is one of the bravest films I’ve seen. It shows the powerful complexity of manipulation as an adult convinces a child that he/she loves them and appreciates them, making them feel special.
I am so glad MIFF curated this film because it attracts people’s attention to the problem of sexual assault and rape. As a medium in communication, the film festival could set off the discussion of woman power and sexism in the public sphere by the cinematic approach. Another film shown at MIFF about rape is as much heartbreaking as well. Angels Wear White discusses the problem of child abuse and sexual assault in the context of modern society of China. On the tourist-friendly island of Hainan Province, two girls’ fates were changed forever after being assaulted by a middle-aged man. The only witness, a teenage maid, was forces to choose between protecting her unstable livelihood and helping a troubled girl. With the drastically different social environment in China, people are able to have the chance to take a glance at how differently the story progresses.
Other than starting the talks about issues in society, the film festival also offers practical help to those who need. After The Tale finished, one of the staff of the festival came on to the stage and said they offered psychological and mental health assistance to who felt uncomfortable after watching the movie. And there’s always someone you can talk to. It struck me the most because I realised that the social functions that a film festival provides are not just limited to disseminating great visual products, they can do more with the care of their audience. I think the film festivals are able to carry great responsibility of what’s meaningful to the society.