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.
by Ella Henry
Mia Marama Henry-Teirney is an emerging talent in the New Zealand screen industry. Mia is currently in post-production of the first short film she has produced, My Brother Mitchell, while holding down a job as Production Assistant on the rebooted Monkey TV series, called “The Legend of Monkey, which will appear on ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation], TVNZ and on Netflix around the world in 2018. Production is already underway in New Zealand” (ABC News, 2017).
Mia comes from a family immersed in screen production, her father (Mark Teirney) was a cameraman and DoP, and her mother (Ella Henry) is a Māori screen academic and one of those who founded Ngā Aho Whakaari (the Māori screen industry guild), in 1996. Mia is part of a blended family, with 8 siblings (sisters, half-sisters, step-sisters and a step-brother), many also working in the screen industry. After completing a Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in HR at AUT, Mia worked in retail and customer service, in New Zealand and Australia. Living in Australia, seeing how minorities and the Indigenous people of Australia are treated prompted her to move home, as she felt “a sense of obligation to do something for my people”. On returning Mia secured a role at the New Zealand Film Commission in Wellington. There she was mentored by renowned Māori-Samoan film maker Whetu Fala (Fala Media), in the Short Film Department, “where we were basically the only two Māori, in this government body that funds and produces New Zealand stories, which stimulated me to want to become a story-teller myself”.
Auckland University of Technology
Female protagonist-focused Bluestocking Film Series to sneak preview 2017 lineup at new Leah's Indie Film Series
by Kyna Morgan
Coming up tomorrow in New England is the second film screening in a monthly series launched by film critic Leah Gage of Leah's Movie Lowdown (a Her Film Project media partner) in cooperation with her site's media partner, WSCA Portsmouth Community Radio in New Hampshire. For this screening, Leah has partnered with Bluestocking Film Series based in Portland, Maine, and will introduce a "Sneak Preview' lineup of films from Bluestocking's 2017 program which is also a traveling festival this year. Bluestocking screens short fiction films that feature strong female protagonists and pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test which ensures female-female dialogue about something other than a male subject.
Gage launched Leah's Indie Film Series earlier this year. About this month's screening with Bluestocking, she says, "I'm really excited that we were able to partner with Bluestocking and Kate Kaminski for the second edition of Leah's Indie Film Series; not only because of Bluestocking's message that female driven narratives are just as compelling and interesting as anything else, but because of the great films Kate will share with us and our audience. Portsmouth is the perfect place to hold an event like this, and we're happy to help Kate and Bluestocking kick off their 2017 road trip!" Gage conducted interviews with some of the filmmakers from the first months' event. Which you can listen to here (scroll toward the bottom of the page for links). Leah's Indie Film Series is ongoing and accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Filmmakers can get in direct touch to inquire about submitting.
This year, in addition to the May 18 sneak preview in New Hampshire, Bluestocking is hosting a traveling film festival in different areas of the U.S., but will also include a screening in its home base of Portland, Maine. On June 23, it will premiere its 2017 program in Los Angeles at a screening hosted by CineFemme in the Spielberg Theatre at The Egyptian. About this year's events, Bluestocking's Artistic Director Kate Kaminski states, "We're really pleased to partner with other women, like Leah Gage, who are building audiences for female-driven films on a grassroots level. Bluestocking's 2017 lineup features a fresh bunch of very complicated women and girls and I'm excited to share the program in New Hampshire on Thursday."
Founded in 2011, Bluestocking has been a leader in the world of independent film as it's pushed forward the agenda of social justice through increased and complex female protagonists on screen. Passing the Bechdel-Wallace Test is a requirement of all films in order to be eligible for the series. The test can be good gauge of gender roles and representation in film and can be handy as well when implemented in connection with, or within the context of other tests such as, the DuVernay Test, the Shukla Test, and the Asian Pacific Bechdel Test (also known as the Long Duk Dong Bechdel Test) that help to focus on racial and ethnic minority and female representation. (Also, specific to Swedish film is the Chavez Perez Test which focuses on diversity and roles played by actors with immigrant backgrounds.)
Leah's Indie Film Series
Featuring 2017 Bluestocking Film Series Sneak Preview
Thursday, May 18 at 7:00 pm (Eastern)
909 Islington Street, Suite 1,
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Follow Leah's Movie Lowdown on Twitter @LMovieLowdown and Bluestocking Film Series @BluestckngFilm.
The following is a guest post by both the writer-director and the producer of Darkness Finds the Fearful, a horror-thriller short and graduate thesis film at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.
ABOUT THE FILM
The film follows a young woman named Natalie who is fleeing for her life in an abandoned building. She’s accompanied by another victim, Britney, as both are pursued by their abductor. As Natalie leads the escape, she reflects back on hunting in the woods with her forest and the wisdom he imparted on her about survival.
BY SIN RIBBON, writer-director
This narrative is the distilled essence of a feature I have written, as I hope to provide a glimpse into the dark worlds I create. Like the feature, Darkness Finds the Fearful illustrates human nature in its rawest form and examines how human life is valued. I wrote the feature because I was fed up with horror clichés—survivors portrayed as vapid, thoughtless, and weak that are sacrificed for gratuitous gore. I don’t shy away from violence if it serves the story, but death only instills an emotional reaction in audiences if the characters have a soul. To mock but also enhance the genre, I wrote the feature to showcase close friendships, survival instincts, and prominent female characters. The short embodies that same spirit by presenting human nature as it truly is, without condoning or condemning.
The portrayal of women and realistic people in general is important to me. I strive to portray characters with depth—something I equate to complexity over mere strength or altruism. "Natalie" is a determined and resourceful woman, but she is also fallible, conflicted between her need to be protective and need to survive. Characters are relatable in their primal goals, in their mistakes and misgivings. Subconsciously, I think we want to be validated in our faults, likely why we are drawn to these characters, but likewise characters have to learn something. A path must be forged. I’ve chosen this story because I believe introspection is important for us as humans. We should always be willing to examine our humanity, unfiltered and at its deepest level. By exploring these aspects, we can be more honest with ourselves and grow, even from fictional experiences.
About the Writer-Director
Sin Ribbon is an artist, filmmaker, and storyteller. She wrote the short horror-thriller Darkness Finds the Fearful and will direct it for her graduate thesis at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
BY SOMMERSILL TARABEK, producer
When first approached by Sin to work on the film, I was drawn in by her approach to horror. Not only does the focus of the film rest primarily upon questions of human nature, but the film expresses itself through the lenses provided by its characters – the strongest of which are women. In many horror and thriller films, women play subordinate or "damsel" roles that require them to be rescued by men. In Darkness Finds the Fearful, viewers will find this is not the case. As a woman myself and a fan of well-written characters like "Natalie," I realized the sort of impact a film like this could have on the genre and wanted to be part of it.
As producer, my main concerns with this film are its logistics. The locations properly reflect the aspects of Sin’s vision, the actors thoroughly represent their respective characters, and the quality of the film will be high because of our insistence to get it right. With pre-production underway and principal shooting around the corner, it’s an exciting time at Team Darkness.
About the Producer
Sommersill Tarabek is a filmmaker and producer of Darkness Finds the Fearful.
Jacqueline Lee Katz