This week is the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, and we're lucky enough to have updates from the festival every day.You can read previous updates from days one, two, three, four,five, six, and seven.
Vessel, directed by Diana Whitten
Film festivals tend to skew to the left.
If there is an environmental film or two—and there are usually a couple—they tend to be green. If there is a GLBTQ film or two—SXSW has The Case Against 8 and a Kehinde Wiley short—they tend to be celebratory. If there is an abortion film, it is usually pro-choice.
There are reasons for that, and they are not all about media bias, which I tend to think of as a rich man's lament. But it is worth considering that Janet Pierson, head of SXSW film, introduced Vessel by telling the audience that there were eight hundred and ninety-two submissions for eight slots in the documentary feature competition. The winner of the jury prize went to The Great Invisible, an environmental film about the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and its aftereffects. Vessel received "Special Jury Recognition for Political Courage."
Neither are bad films, but if you suspect they were awarded because of their subject matter rather than the artful or effective way they present it, you won't get much argument from me.
Vessel is Diana Whitten's chronicle of Dr. Rebecca Gomperts of The Netherlands. She founded Women on Waves, an organization that was designed to utilize international maritime laws to allow her to perform abortions at sea for women who lived in areas where such procedures are (or were) illegal. When the vessel met with resistance, her strategy changed to disseminating information directly to women in these countries ...