By definition femininity (also called womanliness) is a set of attributes, behaviours, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Last year, I was invited to a residency which facilitated an opportunity to make a film about Nara city life and its people from the lens of an outsider. Amongst the many amazing people I met in Nara, I was particularly connected and intrigued by a Geisha named Kikuno Ono, who due to the pandemic was the last Geisha of Nara city at the time.
The Japanese word geisha literally means ‘’art person’’ and are traditionally Japanese female entertainers and hostesses. These women are the symbol of femininity in Japan and are very mysterious, incredibly misunderstood and live in complete isolation. All these things I felt reflected my own life at the time. Kikuno and I became close friends although we didn’t speak the same language, we connected deeply in spirit. We both understood isolation very well and being misunderstood by society at large. Through our shared experience of pain we formed a bond and in this bond led us to deep conversations surrounding the burdens of womanhood and our shared longing to be free from it.
“In A Performance on Femininity we are invited to an intimate conversation between two women from different parts of the world. They share their views on what it means being a woman and the burden that comes along with it. Bare witness to a conversation with conflicting views on the socially perspective of womanhood. The film is a deconstructed experimental short documentary that creates a personal look into the lives of contemporary women navigating rather ancient existing constructs of womanhood.”
The film had its world premier at the Nara Film Festival 2022 and national debut at the Encounters International Documentary Film festival 2023 of which it was nominated for the Youth EYE award. The film has been selected for the Lift-Off Filmmaker sessions for Pinewood Studios where it is being screened online on Vimeo Demand alongside other short films from around the world. Five films will be selected to travel to Pinewood studios in Los Angeles to pitch a film idea in development.
Purchase tickets to view the film HERE (under ‘programme 2’ titled A Performance on Femininity) and vote for Okuhle Dyosopu.
Text by Okuhle Dyosopu