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Heart Eyes and a World, Rosie Morris
Heart Eyes and a World, Rosie Morris

Five films by female-identifying filmmakers on gender-based violence

The 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative is a short film competition that focuses on filmed content addressing violence against women – here, filmmaker Myriam Raja curates her top picks

In 2018, the female-led film company Modern Films launched a short film initiative titled 16 Days 16 Films in collaboration with UK Says No More, a national campaign aiming to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence across the UK. In 2020, the competition returns for its third year, in partnership with the Kering Foundation, having welcomed submissions from across the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Mexico, and the United States.

As the title suggests, the submissions have been whittled down to 16 short films, with one released online each day between the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and International Human Rights Day (November 25 to December 10). Each film is directed by a female-identifying filmmaker and explores the many forms of gender-based violence and inequality in 20 minutes or less.

Reports of domestic violence have notably increased during the coronavirus pandemic, with three-quarters of women in abusive relationships saying that lockdown made it harder for them to escape their abusers. Other forms of abuse such as revenge porn have also surged, with activists calling non-consensual pornography “the new normal”.

“With the number of global domestic abuse cases having risen dramatically in the wake of global lockdown, 16 Days 16 Films enables us to bring issues related to gender-based violence to the forefront, allowing us to further support womxn while championing female-identifying filmmakers,” say producers Johanna von Fischer and Ginta Gelvan.

Last year, Myriam Raja’s The Third Sorrow was announced the overall winner of the competition, out of almost 150 submissions. Now, the BAFTA-nominated filmmaker has curated a list of five picks from this year’s program for Dazed. Selected films confront topics such as abusive relationships, the shame and taboo around menstruation, the failure of authorities to protect victims of attacks, and more.

View more details on Myriam Raja’s selections in the gallery below, and watch the films that have been released here. After the final film airs, voting for the initiative’s Audience Award will open, ahead of a special screening of all 16 films in mid-December.

16 Days 16 Films ends December 10.