20th FEMALE EYE FILM FESTIVAL, "Always Honest, Not Always Pretty"


Supported by Encore+

The Honorary Director Award and Best in the Biz Tribute signifies innovation, creativity, and perseverance in the film and television industry.


Valerie Buhagiar is no stranger to FeFF. She is an award-winning independent filmmaker and is beloved and much-celebrated by the Female Eye. Over the years, we’ve had the great privilege of presenting all of her films at FeFF, where Valerie has garnered several Best Film awards for her work. We are delighted to announce her film “Carmen” as this year’s opening gala feature on Thursday, June 9, at 7PM. “Carmen” is nominated for Best of Show and Best Canadian Feature at FeFF.


Join us for an engaging and enlightening program with Valerie Buhagiar as we highlight her films and discuss her work and the trajectory of her career – as actor, screenwriter, and director!


Moderated by

Leslie-Ann Coles, FeFF Founder/Artistic and Executive Director.


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Valerie Buhagiar is an award-winning Toronto-based actor and filmmaker.

She first gained international recognition playing the leading roles in Bruce McDonald’s “Highway 61” and “Roadkill.” She has been a host for “The Showcase Revue” and has appeared as a guest star in various TV episodic series and in several independent features.

“The Passion of Rita Camilleri” was Valerie’s writing, directing, and producing debut. The film has won several international prizes. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, in the Czech Republic, held a retrospective of Valerie’s work as an actor and filmmaker. Other filmmaking credits include “One Day I Stood Still”; “L’amour L’amour Shut the Door Por Favor”; “Tell Us the Truth Josephine: A Bitter Immigrant Story”; “Small, Stupid and Insignificant” (both “Tell Us the Truth Josephine” and “Small, Stupid and Insignificant” won the Best Experimental Film award at the Female Eye Film Festival); and “The Fall of Grace,” a short film for the National Theatre School of Canada.


Valerie’s second feature film, “It’s Hard to Be Human,” has finished its festival run and won Best Canadian Feature at FeFF; it has worldwide distribution. Her first feature film, “The Anniversary,” won Best Narrative Comedy at Cinequest; Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Honorable Mention Best Feature at the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival; and an ACTRA nomination for Best Actor for Colin Mochrie. Her third feature film, “Carmen,” is a Maltese/Canadian co-production, shot in Malta and starring Natascha McElhone. It won Best Feature at the Canadian Film Fest.


Valerie has two feature films in development.

Honorary Diretcor FEFF Honorary Director Award 2022

When I answered Leslie Ann Coles’s call about receiving the Honorary Director Award at this year’s Female Eye Film Festival, I felt a warm embrace, along with the accumulation of years sitting at my kitchen table writing, organizing, and envisioning project after project – and soon after, a heavy door opened to deeper and more fearless paths.

FeFF has presented four of my films since 2008. This year, the festival will open with my fourth feature film as writer/director: “Carmen.” It is communities like FeFF and the WIDC [Women in the Director’s Chair] that have propelled me forward to reveal my true voice in cinema.

The greatest gift you can give someone is inspiration, and the team at FeFF has done this over and over again.

I am truly grateful and honoured.

Thank you.






(Only VIP Pass-holders can enter)

Q&A with filmmakers and special guests followed by a reception in the Founders Lounge.

Directed by Valerie Buhagiar.


“Carmen” is a charming story, inspired by true events, set in a village in Malta. Carmen has looked after her brother, the priest at the local church, ever since she was 16 years old. Now almost 50, Carmen is suddenly left to start a new life. Facing her past, Carmen brings colour to the lives of the villagers in this compelling story about a woman finding her voice.


(2021, Drama, 1:39:00, Canada)


Supported by


As part of this tribute, a selection of films directed by Valerie Buhagiar will be available to stream free from the Canada Media Fund’s  Encore+ YouTube channel for a limited run.– “Tell Us the Truth Josephine”, “The Fall of Grace”, “Small, Stupid and Insignificant”, “It’s Hard to Be Human”, "L’amour L’amour Shut the Door Por Favor", "The Passion of Rita Camilleri" , "One Day I Stood Still", and “The Anniversary.” 


Supported by




Friends prepare for Grace’s birthday party. They dissect her into good and evil. Some dislike her, some want to be her and some love her unconditionally. We are left with the impression of a beautiful diva and her swollen but selfish heart. Grace doesn’t show up at the party ‘til all is quiet. She embodies all that was said about her and takes her life.

The Fall of Grace is a mystical yet down to earth piercing piece that parallels cyber bullying and our ability to tare someone apart because we just don’t understand what makes them tick.


A film that explores euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Small, Stupid and Insignificant (42 min.) is a not so funny film about a family's struggle with choosing to live. Marie is a single mom, her sister is in a coma, and her Mama is a rosary clutching leave-it-to-God kind of woman. Marie is haunted by her sister, who has been in a coma for 3 years, to pull the plug. And yet, neither of them feels like living. This all changes after one intoxicated night when Marie meets a wandering spirit that helps her realize not only her sister's wish for freedom, but also her own.

Interspersed with the story is documentary footage of people answering the question, 'What does it mean to be alive?' projected onto our set.

A bitter immigrant story by Valerie Buhagiar.

Tell Us the Truth Josephine is a 15-minute experimental drama about a Maltese woman’s search for “Home”. Josephine struts across Canada on stilts. And for Josephine to find home she must accept the Truth. And once she does she can come off her stilts and land. Her journey is haunted by fragmented voices and images of her bloodline – bitter immigrant stories.


"The Passion of Rita Camilleri" is a 24- minute cinematic vision seen through a child's eyes. Rita is eight years old, a Maltese Canadian and a Roman Catholic. She is able to see Jesus fly, her sister's brassiere turn into wings, and a local mutt become a demonic beast. Lonely and insecure, she becomes even more lonely when her best friend Diane dies in a house fire. During and after the funeral, Rita is filled with awe and questions until Diane appears at her window as an angel. Rita is still alone but not as lonely. With the reassurance of what she perceives to be her guardian angel, she conquers her fears and gains a new-found confidence.


L’Amour L’Amour Shut the Door Por Favor has characters whose hearts are too big to swallow. Their hearts sit on the edge of explosion. These explosions will be balanced with horror and bliss. I want to reveal the beauty of love in ugly situations. Love, being such a universal theme and quick to recognize, does not need dialogue. I want the audience to get a glimpse of my characters’ passions, understand them, sit in the emotion and move onto the next. All these images will be lifted with music, connecting the audience with the rhythm of the characters’ hearts.

As the film progresses a few of the characters’ passions will heighten to obsessions. Obsession, I believe, is love gone array. I want to show these heightened passions and end them with a horrific bliss.