When I was young and just starting to get interested in Film with a capital "F," I lived in Washington, D.C. There was a theater called The Circle Theater - I think it was at the corner of Pennsylvania and 24th St. - and they'd show "series" sorted by genres, or directors, or other categories and I'd go there. Basically that was my film education until I went to graduate school in my mid-30s. I guess you could say we want to school our audience in what women filmmakers are doing and thinking, what we think is important in terms of the kinds of narratives we want to tell about our lives. I'm especially drawn to films that feature complicated protagonists and films that reveal what our relationships with each other are really like beyond the stereotype of competitors for male attention.
So for me, a series is something that is ongoing and carefully curated. There's an art to programming and I enjoy that aspect of it immensely.
The fall screening was so much fun. Tawny Foskett, who directed Girls Who Smoke, came up from New York and we had a really great crowd who responded with real - and noisy - enthusiasm to the films. We showed five films: Foskett's drama Girls Who Smoke, Past Due, a dark comedy by Denise Plumb, The Sisters Plotz, a satirical musical by Lisa Hammer, Sisters, a drama by Chantal Bertalanffy, and a documentary-style film called Hovering by Kari Wagner-Peck that's best summed up by a line from the film, "Don't sprinkle when you tinkle." These 5 filmmakers were from Maine, New York, Los Angeles, and Germany (by way of the London Film School).
I noticed on your tumblr that you are announcing opportunities for sponsorship. Can you talk about the business model of the film series and what sources of funding help you to run it twice a year?
Oh dear, I always dread this question. Our business model is that we're completely self-funded right now, and obviously that's not sustainable long-term. So we're going to continue moving forward by reaching out as best we can to businesses or individuals who can help us not only to keep it going but also to eventually grow it. We were able to get our funding appeal one-sheet into the 400+ presenter and attendee bags at the Women in Film and Video International Summit a couple of weeks ago and hoping something will come from that outreach. We're also open to partnering with others. But the process is slow and we don't have funding for a full-on media blitz by a PR company.
I'm hoping we'll...find sponsors and supporters who agree that it's a cool idea to encourage and promote the work of women directors in the realm of narrative film.
I'm hoping we'll eventually find sponsors and supporters who agree that it's a cool idea to encourage and promote the work of women directors in the realm of narrative film. If you're out there, let's talk.
It's been absolutely, hands-down a wonderful experience. The audiences have been totally open and accepting and enthusiastic. Even though I haven't met in person most of the women whose films we've screened, I've struck up electronic correspondence with all of them and just doing that has expanded my world about a thousand percent. Almost every day I make a new connection. It feels like I'm part of a new outpouring of expression from women media artists.
How would you rate your experience with the Bluestocking Film Series this year? Do you do reviews each year to see how you can improve, or experiment to see what works and what doesn't?
I'm incredibly proud of what we accomplished this year. It's been amazing. Formally, we haven't had any review process, but we're definitely learning every time we do it and always thinking of ways to attract submitters and audiences. It's safe to say we've been an experiment from the start, but one thing we'd like to try in 2013 is to introduce a competition category where filmmakers are given a list of criteria they have to meet and the winner gets a prize. We'd also like to revamp and revitalize our website this year to make it more interactive - we need a blogger!
I'm looking forward to discovering and screening more great films from women directors. We can see so many possibilities for the Bluestocking, but even if we only realize one or two of them for 2013, it will be a very good year.
Learn more about these films:
Trailer for Sisters
The Sisters Plotz (online at Funny or Die)
Teaser for Past Due
Trailer for Girls Who Smoke
Kate Kaminski conceived the biannual Bluestocking Film Series — Films By Women — a screening event for women filmmakers. She co-owns the DIY production company, Gitgo Productions, with partner Betsy Carson, and collaborates with the St. Lawrence Arts Center to bring women’s films to audiences in Portland, Maine.
Note: Her Film Project has signed on as a sponsor of the Bluestocking Film Series this May.