Every year on March 8th, all around the globe, we celebrate International Women’s Day. One special day of appreciation for women, who have been often neglected by history and society despite being responsible for bringing every single human being onto this world. Where did this day start and what does it mean for us today?

In 1909 in New York, the Socialist Party organised the very first Women’s Day, citing a need for a special day to highlight women and women only. As women’s suffrage spread across the world, so did Women’s Day. The tradition persisted and in 1917, it became a national holiday in Russia and its popularity spread from there.Given how long and extensive the history of modern humans is, it is quite baffling we have had this day for just a little over a hundred years. Some would say it’s outrageous we even need this day to remind the world that women matter, that we can’t be pushed into a corner as we used to be, and still are in some parts of the world.

In the film industry, the inequality between men and women is striking. There is an abhorrent 5:1 ratio of men and women working behind the scenes - the directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, and the rest of the many professions needed in film. Female directors and writers are always at risk of having their work be labelled simply as a “women’s film”, reducing and demeaning it to its own separate genre. To illustrate this chasm of inequality, just this past week, Chloé Zhao became only the second woman in history to win Best Director at the Golden Globes, after Barbra Straisand won the award in 1984 for the first time.

These are just a few reasons why we need to do better and uplift women who are trying to tell stories about women, or about anything they want. Drowned out by the loud chatter of five times more men than women, female voices are at a risk of getting lost completely. That is why categories such as ‘Women’s Voices’ at our Beeston Film Festival matter.

Twelve short films, twelve different stories about women that we should pay attention to. Tackling themes from unequal laws, abuse, cultural difference to more simple ones such as love, infatuation and childhood. Anyone can find their pick, whether to watch something that will help them educate themselves and empathize with hurt that isn’t known to many, or to see a simple heartwarming story, masterfully crafted by a female filmmaker.

The Rape Clause introduces the audience to a scarcely known UK law concerning tax benefits for children after your first two. How would you feel having to fill out a form, having to recount the story of your rape to a social worker just so you could keep you and your children afloat financially? This film illustrates that emotional pandemonium of being faced by trauma again just to fill out a form.

The Little Beach takes you to Argentina, an idyllic beach and the story of a little girl, following her goal as the life on the beach continues. She moves along unperturbed by the surroundings on her journey following a beach vendor. You can almost smell the sunscreen and feel the heat of the sun and the salicidy of the sea.

Get Back ASAP is an Iranian film depicting the teenage coming-of-age of two girls, trapped in a culture that doesn’t permit something as mundane to us as returning after midnight from a party. With great pacing and tension, three women and one man are the players in a story telling more with less that will make you think about the stark differences in female experiences around the world.

‘Women’s Voices’ is a category that describes Beeston Film Festival well - it’s diverse, it shines a light on impactful and enjoyable stories and brings some great art to the audience almost on a silver platter. Female experiences are varied, complex and often dismissed as frivolous or needlessly emotional. Let these twelve stories convince you of just how outdated and sexist so many claims about films focusing on women are.

Written by Sara Jakubcova