Women dominated at the 2017 Maryland International Film Festival.

From the actresses on the big screen to the film’s producers and directors to the Executive Director of the Festival Tracie Hovey. The Maryland International Film Festival recently voted one of the top 50 festivals worth the entry fee by Moviemaker Magazine— Women ruled this year, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“Women made powerful films this year, and they were a huge success at this year’s festival,” said Hovey.

Among the many films directed and produced by women is “Embrace” this eye-opening documentary hit the film festival circuit and is obtaining worldwide recognition. What happens when a mother of three puts a simple before and after photo of her pre and post baby body on Facebook? The pictures lit up the web and social media leading to the creation of ‘The body image movement.”

Women and men live it each day the shame of not having the perfect body–whatever that may be.

“Embrace” looks at the culture of body loathing and body shaming and the epic levels it has reached worldwide.


The journey of a mother of three, struggling with her body image after childbirth.
Taryn Brumfitt- founder of the body image movement is inspiring women with this candid documentary into body image.

Brumfitt spoke with Mia Freedman, the youngest editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. Freeman was also the most progressive in bringing in “normal” and larger women to the covers and features of the beauty magazine.

Freedman paved the way for curvy model features against a tidal wave of pressure.

“I knew what it felt like to get to the end of reading this magazine and feel like I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t tall enough, skinny enough, blonde enough and I wanted to change that. I got rid of diet features and started using models of different shapes and sizes. I used a model who was a size 16 for my first lingerie shoot. She would not be covered up in a cardigan like other plus size lingerie shoots. I wanted to dress her in the Cosmo way; The fashion editor was horrified. It was hard to get clothes for this shoot; fashion designers didn’t want to send us clothes associated with a size 16 woman. The makeup artist didn’t want her name linked to the shoot, and neither did the photographer. It was a battle, and that battle still exists to a lesser degree.” Says Freedman.

The documentary explores the pressure of a media-induced perception of the perfect body being portrayed to women every day.
Brumfitt uncovers the fact that even the models in the magazine don’t look like the models in the magazine with photo editing software being part of everyday life for many photographers and magazine.

As a local news reporter and not a super model if I had a dollar for every time I heard a photo or video director say “We can fix it in post” I would be a wealthy woman. The fixing, tweaking and sometimes completely overhauling an image in post production to achieve the unachievable- perfection.

“After speaking with a cosmetic surgeon and laughing at the notion that fat from my buttocks could be injected into my lips, it worries me. This is the world my kids are growing up in,” says Brumfitt.

From the brainwashing by the media to the cultural landscape we allow our children to embrace extend from magazines to computer games like grand theft auto which objectifies women in a negative way with its subliminal message. There are different body types – there is no norm when it comes to beauty. So why are we still objectifying women in 2017?

Messages from women about women and everyday people. Another movie to make an impact at the Maryland International Film Festival this year is “ Last Call at Murray’s” directed by Linda Palmer. The movie hit all the right notes while gathering accolades leading up to its general release on digital and demand last month.

“Last call at Murray’s” highlights what Hollywood agrees is lacking in the major blockbusters. A movie about real people. Directed by a woman and highlighting several strong female characters including that of “Roxanne” played by Eileen Grubba, “I think this movie is an excellent character study, a chance for everyone to look closer at themselves and others and realize people have their quirky and crazy behavior for a reason.”

Grubba, known for her role in “Sons of Anarchy” plays cocktail waitress Roxanne in “Last Call at Murray’s” a soon to be an unemployed mother trying to balance life with no support from her alcoholic husband.

Grubba says, “I have played a lot of downtrodden characters over the years, and while my character in ‘Sons of Anarchy’ was more violent I am used to playing these types of roles. I think this character is strong-willed and feisty; she is challenged economically fighting to survive as essentially a single mother. My life has been challenged in many ways, so I think I am attracted to this type of role as I can bring my real life experience to the table.”

The highlight of women making a difference for me came in the form of “Equal Means Equal” proving women are not all just beautiful faces, wonder bras and emotions.

Kamala Lopez defines the modern woman; she is the director of “Equals Means Equals” a film analyzing the status of women in the US.

“The audience at the Maryland International Film Festival was very engaged, brilliant people who wanted to know more about the documentary. It made all the hard work worthwhile.” Says Lopez.

“I started the film movie back in 2009 when I found out that women don’t have equal rights in the U.S. 96% of Americans don’t know that, I didn’t.
I kept asking telling myself how can that be? The constitution written in 1787 considered women were property at that time. We didn’t have any rights, and nothing has dramatically changed. The legal model of wives was the same for the legal model of slaves.”

Lopez added, “It’s 2017 and women are explicitly excluded from the constitution. We do have the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment – this protects Women’s civil right– but it’s not that straightforward. ”

“There have been some attempts like the Equal pay Act, Title 9 and Title 7 which covers employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin and education discrimination. We now have the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but we don’t have the basic civil and human rights saying you are equal under the law. We don’t have that in 2017! Any case that makes it to the Supreme Court fails as the court can’t rule on civil rights if it’s not in the constitution.”

“Supreme court officials can only rule and interpret. We need women to be put into the constitution so that we can eliminate all these loopholes.” Says Lopez.

Real women of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities and religions making a real difference.

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