Sorbonne Abu Dhabi Marks 40th Anniversary of Women in Film and Television
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Two-day cultural event celebrates women

Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi – 04 November 2013

DedraParis-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) held a two-day event, at the university’s Al Reem island campus, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Women in Film and Television (WIFT), under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development. The event featured lectures, workshops, and film screenings, including the Middle-East premiere of the award-winning documentary on breast cancer, Beauty and the Breast.
Prof. Eric Fouache, PSUAD Vice-Chancellor, said, “Hosting the WIFT event reflects PSUAD’s commitment to showcasing and magnifying women’s voices in society, commitment to social issues, especially those relevant to women who are key components of society, and commitment to promoting women and their legitimate right for a place on the regional and international film map. It also reflects our ongoing commitment to the role we set ourselves since the establishment of Paris-Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi.”
Fouache noted WIFT’s contribution to fostering young creative talents, allowing them to assume their natural role and position in giving back to society. He observed that the event was part of PSUAD’s ongoing cultural activities which draw a wide audience and the brightest poets, writers, scholars, and thinkers, as well as young enthusiasts and UAE university students.
Ms. Michelle Nickelson, Co-Chairwoman for WIFT UAE said, “The relationship that exists between film and women poses real controversy, much like the controversy raised when we talk about women in general in eastern cultures, given that women as a topic constitute an essential locus in cinematic writing, and in the social and cultural debate around it. In the context of such extensive representation and presentation of women as physical clichés in most cinematic works, we see the first hints of the controversy addressed in various inquiries.
“Film is a form of social production belonging to the artistic sphere which is conceived from social relationships and is transformed and changed, despite its relative independence, by the transformations and changes of these relationships. These relationships are capable, in different ways, of producing the artistic forms they require, meaning that they serve to produce and reproduce artistic relationships and the aesthetic standards associated with them.”
Ms. Nickelson remarked that “the film industry no longer places side by side the phenomena of a homogeneous world in the topics it depicts, where films now feature fairly heterogeneous elements of reality, especially that the components of social identity are being defined hastily; every mark or element that enters into the creation of the picture carries with it a strong influence on current reality.”
Ms. Dedra Stevenson Co-Chairwoman for WIFT UAE added that “the crisis of women in film and television is attributed to the fact that most works often focus on a classical female stereotype. She observed that women’s cinema should be a reflection of humanity, in striving to render details, at a dimension that regular, everyday perception cannot capture”.
She emphasized that “Arab women are no longer amateurs, lacking support and following in the steps of others. They are today self-aware artists and professionals in the seventh art, whether as actors, directors, or screenwriters. They also have considerable cultural and educational backgrounds in film, acquired through practicing drama, through instructional and training workshops, or studying at Arab or international arts institutes”.
WIFT inaugurated its first regional chapter in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, in 2008, on the sidelines of the Middle-East International Film Festival. The decision to launch a UAE chapter reflects WIFT’s commitment to showcasing and magnifying women’s voices in the film and television arena.
Women in Film and Television (WIFT) is a non-profit organization essentially aiming to foster the professional development of women in the film industry and other television and media sectors. WIFT has 40 chapters worldwide that represent more than 10,000 members. The organization offers opportunities for outreach and education and provides scholarships for those who wish to reinforce their film practice with academic study, in addition to private funding for films, and helping and supporting aspiring members to break into the film and television business.