The Women’s International Film Festival began in 2005 as a way to provide a venue to exhibit films for and about women. That one-day event presented only five films, but was extremely well received by the audience and participants.
In 2006, a three-day event was developed, marking the first official year of the Women’s International Film & Arts Festival. The legendary Golden Globe and Emmy Award Winning Actress and Civil Rights activist Ruby Dee kicked off the Festival speaking on the issues of women in film and delivering a dynamic performance reading from her book, My One Good Nerve. Twelve films were shown that year representing women of European, African, Haitian and Arab American descent.
By 2007 at the end of the second annual festival, WIFF was awarded Best Film Festival in Miami by The New Times Newspaper. More than 40 films were shown over 4 days, including several Florida Premieres, a 2007 Oscar nominated film, an Emmy winning film, and a USA premiere. 2007 Oscar Nominee (best supporting actress for the film Baba) Adriana Barraza kicked off the festival with a special appearance opening night and as the featured artist for the awards ceremony function. In addition, Ruby Dee returned for another special engagement, “An Evening With Ruby Dee.”
In 2008, Alley Sheedy (The Breakfast Club), Kate Siegal, NAACP Image Award winner Victoria Rowell, and international recording artist Lucrecia participated in the festival. In 2008 and 2009 more than 300 films from 23 countries were received. In 2010 Vivica A. Fox joined us for the premier of her new independent film, “Junkyard Dog.” U.S. Corporate sponsors such as American Express, Miami Herald, Comcast, NBC, Bacardi and educational institutions such as University of Miami, Florida International University and many others became involved. In addition, WIFF has developed partnerships with Paramount Studios, Mega TV, MTV Films, and held workshops with representatives from PBS, The History Channel, ACTRA, The Discovery Channel, Mega TV, the Directors Guild, and others. The partnerships with national and international entities continue to grow such as CARICOM, UNIDO, and invitations to produce a Women’s component for the Cartagena International Film Festival and the Liverpool ’08 European Capital of Culture celebration.