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Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground ★★★



Director/Writer: Anna Fishbeyn

Cast: Anna Fishbeyn, Squeaky Moore, Lauren LoGiudice, Athena Michaelides, Brennan Lowery, Ryan Santiago

If Anna Fishbeyn had pursued politics with the same intellectual vigour and ferocious passion with which she approaches filmmaking, she would probably be in high office today. Fishbeyn’s considerable talents are on full display in her latest indie offering, Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground, which played at a well-attended screening (and much-engaged audience) in Cannes this week as part of the French Riviera Film Festival.

Set in 2195, a future in which women rule the world and men dream of getting married, the film is designed to entertain but also to ignite discussion and debate. In fact, as Fishbeyn hopes, to start a revolution; a new way of thinking about how society instils gender expectations and restrictions in us pretty much from birth. And how few people stop to actively examine what this means for their individual and collective experience.

Using comedy, physicality, and music to make her sharp as a tack observations, Fishbeyn creates a futuristic world that is bright, dazzling, and glittery, unlike most big-budget sci-fi efforts. It’s a stylistic and visual choice that imagines 2195 seen through a woman’s eyes, eyes muted greys and terracotta shades of the male version of the future. This is rainbow colours and sparkly costumes that would look at home in a Mamma Mia sequel set in a galaxy far far away.

The setting is a male beauty pageant, a sort of Mr Congeniality, in a neon worhosted at the Gloria Steinem dome ld of the future, hosted at bathing costume section of the show is countered by a slot for each contestant to show off the talent and reveal the beauty within. The contest is hosted by the 17 times divorced Illumina (Fishbeyn) a ruthless, seductive, predatory ring mistress who will let nothing, especially emotions, get in her way. Before the contest finale she coaches the contestants to improve their smile ability and sexy demeanour while taking her pick of their personal charms., knowing that there will be no consequences for her lascivious behaviour. There are laugh out loud moments along the way and knowing moments of cringe-worthy acknowledgement of what women have had to endure for centuries.

At the end, Fishbeyn takes a tremendous risk by stripping all that has gone before in the film as she presents herself, raw and vulnerable, to the audience, direct to camera. It’s a bold risk that pays off and gives the film an exposed heart. At just over 1.5 hours, the film is a tad too long and could benefit from tighter editing but Fishbeyn, who wrote and directed as well as stars in it, is a welcome talent in the world of female filmmakers.

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