by Kyna Morgan
The forthcoming documentary short film Khadra is currently in pre-production with production to commence in Lebanon later this fall. Directed by Alice Rowsome and produced by Lauren Santucci, Khadra focuses on grassroots work in the conflict-torn city of Tripoli, impacted by violence and failures in waste disposal. When on a reporting assignment, Rowsome connected with a woman named Rabab, and her son Khoder who wanted to launch a recycling initiative at his university. Rabab gathered some of her friends to launch their own initiative to help clean up their communities and heal sectarian divides.
Female Identity Without Motherhood: interview with My So-Called Selfish Life director Therese Shechter
by Kyna Morgan
In 2010, Therese Shechter discussed the beginning stages of her documentary film How To Lose Your Virginity, and in 2012 returned to discuss it again during the final stages of post-production. This year, she's back to talk about her latest film My So-Called Selfish Life which is scheduled for a 2019 release. This documentary focuses on women who choose not to have children and the cultural obstacles to defining femininity in a way that does not include motherhood.
Therese Shechter is a filmmaker, writer, and multi-media storyteller based in Brooklyn. She is currently raising money to complete My So-Called Selfish Life and would love you to check out her Kickstarter campaign. Her other documentaries include How To Lose Your Virginity and I Was A Teenage Feminist, and she’s part of a podcasting trio called Downton Gabby.
In a recent interview, we discussed her work in feminist filmmaking, the politics of not having children, and the commodification of motherhood.
Strike A Rock is South African female filmmaker, Aliki Saragas’s, debut feature documentary. It tracks the lives of Mam’ Primrose Sonti and Mam’ Thumeka Magwangqana – champions of the Women’s Group, Sikhala Sonke (Translated: We are crying together) – as they fight courageously for a better life in Marikana mining community after thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead by South African Police in August 2012. The men were striking for a living wage of R12500 ($900 US) per month. Comparable to the infamous Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, the Marikana Massacre left devastation in its wake. Strike A Rock is a superb offering of progressive African female images and voices on screen that highlights the complexities of life for the women left behind as they endeavor to help their community to rise above their circumstances.
The film was one of six projects chosen to pitch at Good Pitch Kenya in 2016 and the European Documentary Network. Strike A Rock opened the Encounters Documentary Festival 2017 and won the Audience Award for Best South African Documentary. The film also won the Best South African Documentary and the Amnesty International Durban Award for Human Rights at the Durban International Film Festival 2017. I sat down with Saragas at her world premiere in Cape Town, South Africa to discuss the inspiration behind the film, the impact projects that surround her work and the state of female filmmakers in Africa.
Jacqueline Lee Katz: This has been a long journey for both you and the women of Marikana. Where did this project begin and what have been the major developments since its inception?
Aliki Saragas: The film started as my MA in documentary arts, where the main aim and purpose was to reinsert the women’s voices back into the Marikana narrative. The realities of the devastation of the Marikana massacre that took place on 16 August 2012 is widely known and has been criticised globally, including in the award-winning film Miners Shot Down, produced by Uhuru Productions, the co-producers of Strike a Rock. But there are voices that have yet to be heard. Voices from the strong women leaders and the community that surrounds the mine have seemingly been erased from the narrative. Despite the international attention, inquiry and mass-activism that followed the massacre, living conditions for the Marikana community have worsened. There has been no accountability.
This is what drew me so powerfully to the story of Thumeka and Primrose - two grandmothers who were compelled by the tragedy they witnessed to take on leadership roles, exercising their agency and power. As the political climate of South Africa wasn’t changing, as well as the personal and political lives of the women, the film organically focused not only on reinserting their voices in a reflective way around the massacre, but also, and very importantly, focusing on the very current socio-economic crises, and obligations owed to the community through the extraction of Africa’s natural resources. They force us to recognise that the story of Marikana is not yet over.
JLK: You have ensured that Mam’ Primrose and Mam’ Thumeka have attended all of the South African screenings and have participated in the Q&A sessions. Can you speak on the importance of including them in this process?
AS: Right from the beginning, the film has been a collaborative process - it was the most important thing. Thumeka, Primrose and Sikhala Sonke knew that we had the same intention with the story and what we wanted it to do. That coupled with a very important creative decision to immerse myself with the women in their homes for over three years helped us develop a very strong relationship, trust and mutual respect. The film is a mouthpiece for their voices. It aims to continue the work they are already doing on a public platform in bringing awareness and attention to their plight. There was no option, really, if they were to be involved. It’s their film as much as mine.
(left) Primrose Nokulunga Sonti / (right) Thumeka Magwangqana
Courtesy of J. Katz
JLK: At your world premiere, you spoke on the impact projects that are currently in place as a result of the film. What are these projects? As a South African documentary filmmaker, is impact work where you see your future?
AS: Since the Marikana massacre, the women of Marikana have been active in civil society and political structures to fight for justice and accountability. The women of Marikana and the film team see the film as another addition to build on the movement started by mining-affected communities. We need as many people as possible to see the film and to put pressure on Lonmin and the South African government to ensure socio-economic development.
Sikhala Sonke and the film team will particularly focus on continuing to emphasise the demands of Sikhala Sonke in their Complaint laid at the International Finance Corporation - the finance arm of the World Bank - on the basis that Lonmin failed to comply with the conditions of their loan agreement to develop the community. This will be done through focused screenings with stakeholders, shareholders and policy makers around the world.
We have just had an impact screening in London hosted by the State Crime Film Club and War on Want at Bertha DocHouse, and are planning a tour with the film in the U.K. during the commemoration of the massacre in August 2017, where we will bring Thumeka and Primrose to talk to their own experiences. In partnership with Sikhala Sonke, we will facilitate community screenings using a mobile cinema in conjunction with workshops detailing the communities’ rights and possible recourse with the relevant SLPs [Social Labor Plans] through toolkits.
We will hold feminist workshops to assist the growth of women’s organisations in communities. Starting in Marikana, we aim to reach mining communities across all major mining areas in South Africa. With the right partners, we will expand the campaign to other areas facing destructive resource extraction with little to no benefit in the global South.
Confirmed partnerships include the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Amnesty International, Women in Mining (WoMin), the Marikana Support Campaign, and STEPS.
The film’s screening tour presents the opportunity to provide the tools to enforce their rights, with key partnerships and funding opportunities. Through the impact campaign we also want to assist the women of Marikana in building sustainable projects in and for the benefit of their community. The women have already started their first project, the creation and development of a sustainable community garden and we will continue to lobby for donations to directly assist these projects on the ground.
JLK: The women of Marikana have said that they endorse the film completely and agree that this is an accurate representation of their ongoing struggles. What were some of the steps you took to ensure that you prioritized the women’s voices throughout the film?
AS: I made a very clear choice that I wanted to create a very intimate film that focused on telling the story through the women’s voices from the inside, rather than through external voices that have already shaped the discourse of the space. In that way, I spent many months with Primrose and Thumeka inside their homes and with their families, which developed into a very strong relationship that has extended way beyond the film. We also all had the same objectives and intentions - to champion how these two grandmothers, and the women of Sikhala Sonke as a whole, were compelled by the tragedy they witnessed to take on leadership roles as they exercised their agency and power to try to make a change. I focused heavily on the themes of domestic feminism, that feminism can be born out of roles that relate to men – for example, Sikhala Sonke was born out of a need to support the mineworkers and unite the women of the community.
We move away from white feminist perspectives that being a wife, mother, girlfriend that cooks, cleans and supports a family - whilst at the same time speaking truth to power on public platforms - is not feminist. My aim was to weave together the perspectives of the women using a sensitive, unobtrusive and intimate camera. The film takes the viewer on a journey through trauma, history, loss, memory, friendship, and the fear of being further forgotten as Thumeka and Primrose survive each day. At the same time, we are confronted with a very real obstruction of justice and lack of accountability on the side of Lonmin, who seemingly shirk their legal obligations to the community. As well as the South African government, who neglect to ensure that the required socio-economic development takes place. In this context, the personal becomes the political and that is where the impact of the film lies.
JLK: Could you tell us about your experience as a young South African female filmmaker? What are the challenges that female filmmakers still face in Africa?
AS: I think opportunities for women filmmakers’ in South Africa, as well as across the continent is definitely growing - although we have a long way to ensure transformation takes place and young, first-time filmmakers are given support and assistance. If I was not surrounded by a team of strong, supportive women producers who held the door open for me through mentorship and advice, I would never have been able to cope.
This was my first feature-length film, and so was incredibly challenging, especially since it took over three years to make. I think one of the hardest obstacles for a first-time filmmaker, or at least for me is to keep confident in my decisions and stay true to my vision. To understand and trust that I knew what story I wanted to tell. That was part of the journey. It also, however, allowed me to grow my sense of intuition, which is how I worked throughout. In a documentary environment, I didn't come across challenges that other women face in the industry such as sexual harassment and discrimination, which is why at Sisters Working In Film and Television (South African based Not for Profit Organisation) we are focusing on putting in place actionable interventions to stop these experiences of women in the industry around the country.
JLK: Where to from here - what can we expect from you in the future?
AS: I plan on building and growing my own production company, Elafos Productions, which champions women's stories both in front and behind the lens. I am also working with the African Oral History Archive, a multi-media initiative that documents South African history. We are currently in productions on a feature doc that hasn’t been released to the public yet. I am also very involved in the newly formed SWIFT organisation, a Not for Profit Organisation which aims to address common concerns, share experiences, support and inspire women in the South African film and television industry.
It seems to me that we have an interesting situation in India where women have been the pioneers in producing/directing documentary films in the 1980s. Would you agree with this assessment? And if so, how would you explain this aspect?
I would agree that feminist filmmaking in the 1980s and 1990s redefined the language of documentary in India, bringing in an awareness of how gender is a significant marker of our identities, allowing for more women’s stories, and marking the presence of the filmmaker into the cinematic text in many different ways. This allowed for more interesting ways of exploring the realm of the political. It was feminism’s assertion of the personal as political, that allowed for a critical focus on the ways in which power, specifically gender relations of power, impinge on our everyday lives and this made for more plural ways of articulating the political.
What kind of relationship do documentary films hold with the present and the past? Is there an engagement with history in the very enterprise of documentary film making?
A lot of documentary films involve memory work, revisiting the past, and understanding the present through reconstructions of the past. Moreover, even when they deal with the present, documentary films ultimately become a testimony of the past, of how some people in the past saw their lives and times. As Paula Rabinowitz affirms, “looking” is a “historical act”. Thus the act of looking and witnessing that documentary involves is shaped by history and in turn shapes how we reconstruct the past in the context of the present. The construction of history in the Indian context is fraught with contestations and contradictions, linked to the affirmation and erasure of identities and Indian documentary films, whether those produced by the state or independent, have played an important role in this process.
Documentary filmmakers such as Michael Moore in the USA for instance has been able to create a space for debate through his films that have been critical of the government. Do we have documentaries that have been as successful?
Documentaries in India unfortunately are not a part of mainstream cinema, screening regularly in cinema theatres and television. Despite this, I would not say that independent documentaries in India have not created a space for debate and critique. The films of people like Anand Patwardhan and Deepa Dhanraj, among others, have raised significant political questions and been disseminated widely through alternate forums. Particularly in the present juncture, with the availability of films on the Internet, the possibilities of wider circulation have increased dramatically.
We have over 800 television channels in India. None of them however commission documentaries. This situation is unlike what prevails in some other countries. What do you think is the reason for the indifference towards documentaries in the Indian context?
The notion that documentary film for a long period represented the (boring) voice of the state as a social educator, as opposed to (exciting) fiction cinema, which was regarded as pure entertainment, is perhaps at the root of this indifference. Television channels, which need to rake up TRPs [Television Rating Points] and make profit to survive, do not give space to documentary because they do not perceive that there is a large enough dedicated audience segment that would be interested in watching documentaries. Moreover, the state-owned channels too have abrogated their responsibility of being a public broadcaster and give little space to the voices and concerns of people. Popular cinema, game shows, reality TV and news as spectacle all reign supreme on our television channels.
What are the platforms and modes of distribution available for documentaries in India?
The modes of distribution and funding available for documentaries are woefully inadequate and it is indeed a wonder that so much interesting material has been made over the years by committed filmmakers on a wing and a prayer. Given the absence of space on Indian television (except for NDTV’s docu slot and another fitful space on Doordarshan), and the difficulties of theatrical release (there have been occasional films that have managed this), the main modes of distribution within India before the advent of the Internet were screenings for film clubs, groups and institutions, film festivals and DVD sales. There are very few institutions like PSBT [Public Service Broadcasting Trust] that support and distribute documentaries. At the present juncture, there are some filmmakers who get commissioned by international television or find international distributors and a few who are able to monetize their films on the Internet through platforms such as Netflix. Of course, filmmakers can distribute for free on the web and many are doing that too. But for those who need to recover their costs, it’s a difficult business.
Documentaries are subject to multiple modes of censorship that restrict their circulation: that of the state, which demands certification for any ‘public’ screening, then of the market, which has little space for documentary content and finally, vigilante disruption of screenings, which is unfortunately becoming a recurrent pattern for films seen as politically inconvenient. In fact, documentary filmmakers have as a collective been extremely pro-active resisting all modes of censorship, from the days of Vikalp (a loose coalition of independent documentary filmmakers formed to resist censorship) in 2003-4 and the creation of alternative screening spaces has been one of the strategies adopted.
Many argue that documentaries, like feature films, should be released commercially in our country. What would be the implications for the autonomy of film making in such a situation?
I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. Commercial release of documentaries will certainly have its implications for the language of documentary, just as pitching for international television begins to shape both the choice of stories and the modes of storytelling. But it will also provide an avenue of sustaining their work for filmmakers. And I feel there will always be those who will make what they want to and distribute it despite the market, or fund their difficult-to-market films through other work that they do for the market.
Very few media schools have documentary film making as part of their curriculum. Why do you think this is the case?
The dictates of the job market and the imperative for placement have their influence on media curricula. The hegemony of the fiction film industry, where the jobs lie does tend to shape both student expectations and curricula. While film schools tend to focus on fiction film, with a documentary project or two, there are schools of journalism that focus on news, where again there are jobs. Documentary falls between the two. Despite this there are a few institutions that have produced and continue to produce fine documentary filmmakers, as well as graduates from film schools who have chosen to work with the documentary form.
Some practitioners and critics have argued that there is a feminine gaze in the visual arts? What is your opinion?
It is true that gender tends to shape one’s ways of seeing and representing, just as it shapes one’s experience of the world. But I’m not sure that I agree with reifying or defining a singular and consistent feminine or masculine gaze, given that we have so many different ways of performing our gender. I believe there are multiplicities of feminist ways of seeing that are not biologically pre-determined.
Can you tell us about Shewrite and Herstory?
SheWrite is a film that we made in 2004-5, after we read a report in Tehelka about how a group of feminist poets in Tamilnadu were being attacked and threatened for writing “obscene” stuff. We found it really fascinating that these poets, from villages and small towns, writing in Tamil, had created a space for their own self-expression and decided to meet the poets. The film explores the poetry and lifeworlds of four poets, Salma, Kutti Revathi, Sugirtharani and Malathy Maitri, traversing their diverse modes of resistance, through images and sounds that seek to evoke the universal experiences of pain, anger, desire and transcendence.
Herstory was made by a group of our students in 2013, as a part of a larger project, entitled Giran Mumbai, of documenting the life and times of the former millworkers who were rendered jobless, and in some cases homeless, after the great mill strike of 1982. It is an attempt to rewrite the exclusion of women from “history” by engaging with the narratives of three former women mill workers and their struggles after the strike, a collective struggle that is ongoing and that seeks to keep the legacy of the mills and the issues of the millworkers alive.
While the two films are very different in formal terms, they share a common desire and project of exploring the everyday resistance of women that gets left out of the grand narratives of history. They affirm that the personal is political and bear witness to how the subversion of gender relations of power is complex and multi-layered.
It is said that documentary film making is influenced by the socio-political position of the filmmaker. Can you talk about the influences on the films that you have made?
It is true that our personal histories and locations shape the concerns that we explore through our work. Both Jayasankar, my partner and fellow filmmaker, and I have been influenced by Marxism and feminism, that impelled social movements we were a part of in the 1970s and 80s, when we were growing up. In addition to this, we have also been a part of the struggles against intolerance and censorship from the late 1990s. In many ways these broad concerns frame our ongoing engagement with subaltern knowledge and issues of identity through our film work since the mid 1990s. Whether it is our work with prison poets (YCP 1997) or struggles for communal amity (Naata, 2003) or the Sufi traditions of pastoral communities in Kachchh (Do Din ka Mela, 2009, So Heddan So Hoddan, 2011 and A Delicate Weave, forthcoming 2017) all our films are a personal quest to understand what we could learn from these local affirmations of creativity and inclusive tolerance.
Much of your documentary filmmaking and your research has been in collaboration with your partner Prof. K.P. Jayasankar. What has this experience of collaboration been like?
It has been exhilarating and rewarding to work collaboratively with Jayasankar, since 1985. In many ways, we complement each other in terms of our perspectives, predilections and abilities. I certainly would not have been able to do, on my own, even a fraction of the work we’ve created collectively. Of course working together has its own challenges that we have been able to negotiate over the years.
One of your more recent concerns has been to archive the changes in the spaces we live in. Giran Mumbai and Divercity are a part of that archival work. Please elaborate.
The idea of creating an online archive of multi media materials first came to us when we made the series of films entitled Remembering 1992 with our students in 2012, as a part of the campaign Bombay ki Kahani Mumbai ki Zubani, which took place between December 2012 and January 2013, 20 years after the communal violence of 1992-93, in which over 900 people lost their lives in Mumbai. Given the erasure and popular rewriting of this history, we felt that it would be worthwhile to create an accessible resource that could contest these erasures and provide space to alternative histories and narratives about this cataclysmic event. After creating this website we realized that this was a wonderful way of sharing our student and faculty documentary work in the public domain, using it as a nucleus to create a resource that brings together a range of different material, from academic writing and newspaper cuttings, to photographs and poetry, around a theme that is related to erasures in the city, whether of time, space, marginalized communities or neglected issues. It also circumvents issues of censorship that haunt offline screenings of documentaries. DiverCity, which is the larger portal, seeks to affirm the city as a space of multiplicity and plurality. So far, we have completed four subsites: Remembering 1992, Giran Mumbai (on the mills and millworkers), Castemopolitan Mumbai (on caste in the city) and WasteLines (on how we deal with our waste and the communities that handle waste). We find it an exciting and productive way of connecting the university with the outside world and sharing the resources produced therein.
Your recent work A Fly in the Curry is a landmark book about documentaries in India. Can you tell us about the book?
As documentary filmmakers and teachers, we keenly felt the paucity of writing about Indian documentary, particularly in the period after the 1970s. This was a book that we carried in our heads for a long time, before we actually got down to working on it. The book tries to explore strands within documentary film practice in India that have challenged dominant definitions of the documentary: as what Nicols calls “a discourse of sobriety”, with the onus of providing evidence of the real in order to change less powerful others. It is interesting that the ruptures within documentary practice in India that question fixed notions of reality and evidence, that rethink the role of the filmmaker, and her relationship with subjects and audiences do not follow any linear historical trajectory. The book engages with Indian documentary as a site of contestation, bringing together a range of films, across periods of time. It draws on textual analysis and accounts of documentary filmmakers, to provide a practitioner’s understanding of the spaces of independent alternative documentary in India. The book also reflects on the little recognised contribution of independent documentary to the Indian public sphere.
When you make documentaries on women’s issues is there a particular way in which you engage with the questions around them?
I think the question of understanding the flows of power and resistance, the everyday ways in which gender power equations get normalized, as well as the playing out of resistance and ruptures becomes important to explore. In this, one also tries to look at one’s own space and the performance of gender within it. Even if the documentary is not specifically on “women’s issues”, gender is a very crucial site of identity construction that weaves its way into all that one makes.
You are an advocate of participatory documentary film making. How do you ensure it in your film?
It is something that one aspires for, through the relationships that we establish with our subjects, through eliciting and taking on board their ideas for the documentation process, sharing the rushes with them whenever possible, and taking the rough cut back to them for their feedback. There is undoubtedly a relationship of power between filmmakers and their subjects, which we need to be aware of and negotiate, with sensitivity, ethical concerns and self-reflection.
YouTube - So Heddan, So Hoddan (2011)
YouTube - Naata (2003)
A Fly in the Curry: Independent Documentary Film in India (Sage, 2016)
Confession: I want to be a superhero. I look up to their superhuman strength, their capacity to self-sacrifice for the greater good, and their bottomless compassion and determination. After watching Dolores and Supergirl, two awe-inspiring documentaries at Montclair Film Festival, I know without a shadow of a doubt it’s possible to become one.
Dolores (directed by Peter Bratt, screenplay by Peter Bratt and Jessica Congdon) is about Dolores Huerta, an activist who has dedicated her life to social justice. The documentary shows Dolores tirelessly advocating for farm workers, going on strike and negotiating contracts with labor employers, lobbying for and against California and federal laws, and co-founding the United Farm Workers union. She faced numerous setbacks, including sexism within the activist community, getting arrested a couple of dozen times, and, as a 58-year-old grandma, getting beaten up at a peaceful protest in San Francisco and hospitalized.
Dolores is indefatigable, but the film also reveals the toll her dedication to the cause had on her family life. She sacrificed a lot personally to be the hero she was to so many others. Interviews with some of her 11 children reveal how she was rarely home and how badly they missed her. Yet it’s also clear her children understand why she made the choices she did and still love her deeply. Many of them now work for the Dolores Huerta Foundation which she founded to create leadership opportunities for community organizing.
Supergirl (directed by Jessie Auritt) frames Naomi Kutin as a superhero before we even step foot in the theatre, and with good reason. Naomi is a world record-holding powerlifter, setting a new world record for women in the 97lb class at age 9 when she squatted 214.9 pounds. I was lucky enough to attend a screening where Naomi was there for a talkback, and she shared how much she’s lifting now. She’s currently 14-years-old and her highest squat is 303lbs, and her heaviest deadlift is 350lbs.
The film takes us on Naomi’s journey as she goes from a young girl determined to continue breaking world records to a young teen just focused on getting better at doing what she loves. As Naomi rises in prominence in the deadlifting world, she also faces setbacks: she’s bullied online as haters comment on her YouTube videos, she suffers from a chronic migraine (likely due to a lack of magnesium) that pulls her out of regular practice for a while, and she suffers through a pulled hamstring.
Perhaps most remarkable is how much Naomi’s family supports what she does. They are practicing Orthodox Jews and most of the women’s competitions fall on a Saturday when Naomi isn’t able to participate due to Sabbath. In a surprisingly unorthodox turn, she and her family lobby for special permission to lift on the day when the men lift, Sundays, so she can still compete. At the talkback, her mom said: ‘we’re just happy that she’s happy.’
Naomi talks about getting in ‘pysch mode’ before lifting, to get herself into the right mental state. Curious, I asked her what she does to get psyched and she said she listens to 2000s rock music and watches other dead lifters’ compilation videos to get inspired. Watching little girls eagerly swarm her after the screening it’s clear she’s going to be future ‘psych’ inspiration for many young women who want to get into the sport.
Both Dolores and Supergirl are must-see documentaries that celebrate powerful American women taking action. Both Dolores and Naomi relentlessly pursue what they are passionate about and soar beyond their respective cultures’ traditional gender role expectations. However, these documentaries also reveal it’s supremely challenging to be a hero. You need a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, an infectious energy to motivate those around you to join you in action, and a powerful sense of self-determination.
Naomi put it simply during the talkback at Montclair Film Festival: when you have challenges in life you have to look them in the face and be scared and still go through with it.
We can all be superheroes, if we truly want to be.
In March of this year, producers Marcela Morán and Maritza Bautista screened their documentary short Jornaleras [Women Workers] to students at the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas in Mexico with the cooperation of the U.S. General Consulate in Nuevo Laredo. They began their filmmaking journey on Jornaleras in 2010 as they traveled through Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans as well as parts of Texas in search of undocumented immigrant women who had experienced being criminalized and having their rights violated. Documenting their experiences allowed Morán and Bautista to expose the problems facing specifically undocumented women immigrants.
About the film, Morán states, “What motivated us was that we had already worked with migrants, earlier I had made documentaries about these subjects, one of them was about the 'Casa del Migrante' [Migrant House], one of the other Migrant Houses in Guatemala. We already knew a lot about the subject and we saw that the stories were always about men, so it occurred to us to make something that would also tell stories about women." (excerpted from El Manana and translated)
It was through the women's willingness to share their powerful stories that Moran and Bautista's understanding of the issue grew ever deeper.
“It is the first project in which we focus on the woman. Now that we’ve finished it, we’re going to keep on. We’ve thought about something here along the border that we called 'Women Have a Voice' which will be a photography project and, we hope, also video, simply because the theme of women is not given any notice and no one speaks of them,” commented Martiza Bautista. (excerpted from El Manana and translated)
Morán is a producer, director and editor as well as a film scholar. She is currently Associate Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University. Bautista served as cinematographer and producer on the film. Jornaleras screened in April at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Texas and at a festival in Ohio.
by Kyna Morgan
How to Lose Your Virginity
Documentary directed by Therese Shechter
Tel Aviv, Israel
September 30 screening and symposium
(More information on Facebook or at tixwise.co.il/virginity)
Haifa Cinematheque (Haifa, Israel)
October 13 (with Hebrew subtitles)
Visit the film’s website.
I Wasn’t Always Dressed Like This
Documentary directed by Betty Martins
University of East Anglia (Norwich, England)
P21 Gallery (London, England)
Learn more about this film.
Feature film by Flora Lau
San Francisco Film Society
October 4 & 5 (opening night film & party on Oct. 4)
Watch the trailer.
How to Crack the Film World's Glass Ceiling
(Incubating women filmmakers)
LISTEN: AFFRM w/Ava DuVernay Launches The Call-In Filmmaker to Filmmaker Podcast on Soundcloud
Interview with Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah of the AWDF on the African Women in Film Forum
Women-Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You
Tamil's 1st woman director finally gets her due
(Read more about Rajalakshmi in The Hindu and in The New Indian Express)
Women Start Jewish Film Festival
by Kyna Morgan
If you're in or near San Francisco tomorrow, don't miss this special screening of Sixth Generation Chinese filmmaker and professor Weimin Zhang's documentary film, Missing Home (The Last Days of Beijing Hutongs) (2012). Zhang tells the story of the disappearance of the Hutongs, an ancient architectural style, and explores modernization and urban development. The film is screening at 6pm at Cole Hall on the UCSF campus (see poster below). A Q&A with Zhang will follow the screening.
This screening is free to the public.
See the Facebook event page and visit the film's website.
by Katie Carman-Lehach
There's no greater American success story than that of the Williams sisters: Venus and Serena, born a year apart but basically twins, who grew up in the rough & tumble neighborhood of Compton, California only to become two of the highest ranking female tennis players in history. But their success has not come for free, and this new documentary from directors Michelle Major and Maiken Baird, takes us behind the scenes and beyond the hype to learn the true story of these incredible athlete warriors. Contributing writer Katie Carman-Lehach had the opportunity to sit down with the directors recently to get the lowdown on what it was really like to spend so much time with the Williams sisters, what they found most surprising about their relationship, and also what their experience has been like as female filmmakers producing this female-centric doc.
Jacqueline Lee Katz