This is the first film review I publish during participating at #52filmsbywomen. I don’t know yet if I’ll write a detailed review about every film, but I’ll try to write about as many as possible.
A young person is sitting on a sofa. She has long brown hair and is wearing a cap. Her face is hooded, only the eye area is visible. She’s looking out of the window, saying: „I’m not a graffiti girl. I’m a graffiti writer. That’s it.“
Girl Power is a documentary about female graffiti writers. I got to watch it at the Unerhört! Filmfestival 2016 in Hamburg, where the movie was screened at B-Movie cinema (a very nice, small cinema by the way).
For me the film is highly political: doing Graffiti is dangerous as hell. Even more, when you do political Graffiti!
Also, the graffiti scene all over the world is male dominated and women are confronted with striking sexism. Graffiti is not only about drawing and writing, the most time you spend planning, trying to get to your spot and watching it. So, Graffiti has much to do with body and strength. Things men often think they have the monopoly on, especially inside the graffiti scene.
Because of that Girl Power is a exceptional important movie, because it makes women in the graffiti scene visible. It shows women who do graffiti, women who do highly good graffiti (as you can see in the film). I really like that Sany (writer and the director of the film) showed so many scenes where the action of writing is taking place, where a piece is kicked by one, two or more women. Also you get to see the „other world“: working life and privacy of Sany and her film crew, trying to meet women in different cities, trying to raise money for the film and everything.
And that is important: showing people outside the graffiti scene what it means to be a writer. And in case of Sany and so many other writers out there it means to give up much. During her work on the film she gets into financial trouble, people tell her she’s changing and stuff like that, but she’s making the film anyway. While watching the movie you get to know the two lives a writer lives and I think it can help understanding why people are doing graffiti and why people are so thrilled about it.
But more political statements in the film would’ve been cool. When you watch the trailer there are those really awesome political statements like the one I quoted in my introduction. But the film doesn’t expand on the topic of femininity in the graffiti scene, the problem of being confronted with guys who think women can’t be writers. There is one scene where men are shown talking about women inside the scene in a very sexist way, but other kinds of struggling with sexism and patriarchy are not really well-elaborated. So, it may would have been helpful for the audience to get a better idea of masculinity and its „importance“ inside the graffiti scene.
On the other hand it’s pretty cool that the whole film is not dominated by sexist, male sights, but by the action of women who are doing their thing. Especially Lady Pink and Utah are very impressive people for me. Lady Pink, because she has a key part in the history of Graffiti. She was the first prominent female writer and also – as you can see in the film – she was one of the first people tagging and writing on subways.
Utah is the person I quoted in the beginning and I think her attitude is exciting and admirable. As she says it’s important to her that she is called a „graffiti writer“. She doesn’t want another label for her and her work because of her gender.
So it’s not something bad if female writers point out that they are women, but I liked her calling herself the same way as everybody would call any male writer. For me that’s a form of resistance against a male-dominated, sexist scene (as well as pointing out femininity).
Basically the film does his job: showing female writers all over the world doing graffiti, alone or as a crew. Sometimes I wished for more of those scenes and a reduction of scenes regarding the framework plot. But I can understand why the framework plot got so many space, so I was happy about these scenes, too. I’d really like to recommend the film, especially to those who are interested in graffiti, but who don’t know much about it yet. There is very few graffiti slang which makes it easy to understand.
And thanks again to Sany, who even came to the screening to answer questions and talk to the audience. That was a really cool evening experience.