This Festival Is Doing Something Huge For Women

With gender inequality in the film industry as rampant and problematic as it is, it's important to point out all the things that Hollywood could be doing better when it comes to women — yet it's equally essential to highlight all the ways that the film industry is doing feminism right. There's the ACLU investigation into female directors, the #AskHerMore campaign taking over red carpets, and the many film festivals working valiantly to bring more female voices into the fray. Over a third of the movies shown at this year's Sundance Film Festival, for instance, were made by women, and now, the New York International Children's Film Festival is featuring an entire program, the Girls POV Retrospective, solely dedicated to featuring movies starring women and/or about women's issues.

In the retrospective, every film shown deals with feminism in a major way, whether that's by starring a complicated, compelling female lead or discussing themes and issues facing women and girls around the world. The films shown at the 2016 festival are some of the best works shown in the past decade of the Girls POV program, as well as one, In The Sea Where I Was Born, having its North American premiere. It's a strong collection of movies, but more importantly, it's an essential one; so many wonderfully feminist movies being shown in one place is an all-too-rare occurrence, and it deserves to be celebrated.

The festival runs from Feb. 26-Mar. 20 at venues around New York, and this year's slate features more than 100 new films from around the world. And six of these — Beach Flags, In The Sea Where I Was Born, Dot, I Am A Girl!, Daughters, and CHALK — are from the Girls POV section. They come from across the globe, and tell unique, female-led stories, some animated, some live-action. Find info on each film below and if you're in New York, check out the festival before it closes.

Beach Flags

An animated film from France's Sarah Saidan, Beach Flags features an Iranian lifeguard intent on beating out a rival at an international competition.

In The Sea Where I Was Born

The 2013 Italian film, directed by Isabel Achaval and Chiara Bondì, follows a young girl who tells a fairy tale-like story of how her pregnant mother traveled from Eritrea to Italy. It's told in a unique, diary-like style.


The British animated film, made by Sumo Science in 2010, features an adorably tiny character who makes a big escape.

I Am A Girl!

The 2012 documentary, directed by The Netherlands' Susan Koenen, stars a transgender 13-year-old dealing with challenges of adolescence.


China's Daughters, by Chloe Zhao, follows a 14-year-old girl who attempts to escape from an arrange marriage after her mother becomes pregnant with a boy.


The 2010 British film, directed by Martina Amati, stars a pair of teen gymnasts whose friendship faces challenges when they enter a national training camp.

The films' plotlines and themes vary widely, but all of them shine a much-needed light on the issues faced by women and girls across the globe.

Images: New York International Children's Film Festival