victoria-rowell_fc.jpgAfrican-American actresses Ruby Dee and Victoria Rowell are just two of the well-known women scheduled to attend the third annual Women’s International Film Festival, which takes place from March 28 to April 6th in various theatres across South Florida.

In honor of women’s dreams, visions and voices, the event’s founder and executive director, Yvonne McCormack Lyons, said she feels like her brainchild is finally starting to grow up.

“This project has a lot of aunts and uncles, and, like any other family, some wonderful board members and supporters,” McCormack Lyons said of the festival.

She described its beginnings as an idea that has been brought to life, specifically because, according to statistics, between 5 and 7 percent of filmmakers today are women, and even fewer are African American.

“The film festival represents all cultures, which is not always the case in other film festivals I’ve seen,” McCormack Lyons said. “As the director, I try to make sure we are inclusive so that any women who come to enjoy their film can support their sister.’’

The festival’s origins began with fewer than five films in 2005, to a 10-day festival that has received over 300 films from 25 countries and five continents. 

Last year, Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Ruby Dee served as honorary chairperson.

Actress Victoria Rowell from The Young & the Restless participated this year as a documentarian with her film, The Mentor, in two pre-festival events on March 27, where her film showed at The Joseph Caleb Center Auditorium in Liberty City.

“I’m really elated the documentary is going to be included,” Rowell told the South Florida Times in a telephone interview. “It was a journey of three years to complete, and to participate in a festival like this is fantastic because it underscores the voice of women and women’s perspective through film.”

The various nights of the event are separated into showcasing different regions of the world, and identifying common issues in a universal medium.

Some of the films featured delve into general world issues of poverty, love and romance, all from the women’s perspective. They show how women are treated in different societies.

On Sunday, March 30th as a part of Wiff around the World, the Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts At Florida Memorial University will feature Mother Africa from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring films from Cameroon, South Africa and Ethiopian cuisine sponsored by Sheba’s restaurant in Miami.

McCormack Lyons said this event exemplifies the international reach of the film festival as Sister Jane Mankaa, the “Good Mother” who founded The Good Shepard Home in Cameroon, will be a featured speaker from the film, The Good Mother of Ambogoh.

“The film talks about a girl whose parents told her she wouldn’t amount to anything and she grew up to be a nun who built an orphanage for children of West Africa,” McCormack Lyons said.

Another film shows dynamic work by African-American and South African women, and the camaraderie between the two when their very different cultures converge, McCormack Lyons said.

This kind of unity is at the core of the festival, she said.

“I believe this festival is by women for women and for all who love women regardless of genre or culture,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are. There’s something for everyone.”

Photo: Actress Victoria Rowell


WHAT: The 3rd Annual Women’s International Film Festival Opening Night

WHEN: Friday, March 28- April 6, 2008

WHERE: Locations across South Florida, including:

Gusman Center for the Performing Arts
174 East Flagler Street
Miami, Fl 33131

AMC Cocowalk
3015 Grand Ave # 322
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

WIFF Cine Art Lounge
3606 Grand Avenue,
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Wolfsonian Museum
1001 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Lou Rawls Center for The Performing
Arts at Florida Memorial University
1588 NW 42nd Avenue
Miami Gardens, FL 33064

Miniachi Performing Art Center
at Nova Southeastern University
3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33314

Abanico Theater at Arts & Minds Academy
3138 Commodore Plaza
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
The Joseph Caleb Auditorium
5400 NW 22nd Ave.,
Miami, FL 33127
The Women’s Park
10251 West Flagler Street,
Miami, FL 33174
305- 480-1717

COST: Tickets are for $10 for each movie, $35 for the opening night activities, $55 for the opening night and after parties and $100 for opening night, after party and all the movies playing throughout the festival .
CONTACTS:  For tickets and more information on the Women’s International Film Festival, go to