As a partner of Bluestocking Film Series, I'm happy to share that Che Grayson (@fandomfox) was in Portland, Maine this past week for Bluestocking! Based in New York and with a background in photography, comics, and filmmaking, she also served as one of the official photographers for the Bluestocking Film Series and will be writing about her experiences for the Bluestocking website. (Posts will be cross-posted here.) It was so lovely to welcome her to Maine for this amazing event! Read more about Che below and follow @BluestckngFilm and fb.com/bluestockingfilmseries and the hashtags #DriveSheSaid and #femaleprotag for more information on the series.
Che Grayson is a New York based filmmaker and comic book creator from Long Island, New York. Her documentary photography work in places that include Vietnam, Arizona and the Pine Ridge Reservation sparked her passion for storytelling. As an MFA thesis student at New York University’s graduate film program, Che has written, directed and produced several short films and has worked under the mentorship of Spike Lee and Kasi Lemmons. Che is also the creator and writer of a comic book series called Rigamo, about a young girl who discovers that her tears bring people back to life. This series helped her overcome her grief at the death of a beloved aunt. She’s currently a TED Resident, focusing on comics & activism as she explores using these forms of storytelling to tackle other tough subjects, heal, and inspire.
This year Her Film Project is partnering again with Bluestocking Film Series in Portland, Maine to help support women in film! We were so happy to host Megan Kearns, Managing Editor and Social Media Director of the amazing and ever-inspiring Bitch Flicks! Megan came up from Boston to attend a special panel, "Refocused: Women and Girls On-Screen" on July 14 which included Maria Giese (@mariagiese), director and activist leading the push for hiring equity in Hollywood (and creator of the Women Directors in Hollywood blog); Yolonda Ross (@YolondaRoss), actress and director (The Bad Batch, Go for Sisters); Ariel Dougherty (@mediaequity), co-founder of Women Make Movies; and Alison Beyea (@ACLUBeyea), Executive Director of the ACLU Maine; with Loren King (@lorenkingwriter) of the Boston Globe as moderator. An incredible event simply packed with information on the reality of a glaring and shameful lack of women and girls in film and television and also the types of roles women and girls play. To fix it, we all have to do our part, and it was empowering to hear some great ideas on how to do that. Perspectives ranged from the legal to the activist to the financial. (More on this in a future post.) Visit the Bluestocking Film Series site for more information about the fest this year, and see below to learn more about Megan Kearns. Also, be sure to check out Megan's recent interview with Bluestocking's Artistic Director & Founder, Kate Kaminski.
Megan Kearns is a film critic and freelance writer. She is the Managing Editor and Social Media Director at Bitch Flicks. She writes for Silver Century Foundation and she is the Social Media Manager and member of the Boston Online Film Critics Association (BOFCA). Megan’s work has been featured at Bitch Media, Women and Hollywood, Fem2pt0, Everyday Feminism, Feminist Magazine on KPFK Radio, Open Letters Monthly, and Spoilerpiece Theatre. She also founded The Opinioness of the World, a feminist vegan blog. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from UMass Amherst and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Politics and Public Policy from UMass Boston. You can follow her on Twitter @OpinionessWorld.
Her Film Project is a supporter, past and current, of Bluestocking Film Series in Portland, Maine, a Bechdel-Wallace Tested celebration of film featuring complex female protagonists and filmmakers of all gender identities. Putting more women on screen helps to flip the script, change the conversation, and agitate for change in the film industry by showing us more of the world in which we live. Including more women's and girls' voices and stories in film can help to change the world. Bluestocking is raising money now through Indiegogo, and Her Film Project is supporting Bluestocking through effort and dollars. But the campaign ends on July 13! Will you please join us to help us meet our goal?
Perks include digital sneak peeks of 2016 Official Selections of Bluestocking Film Series, a Skype meeting with Kate Kaminski (Artistic Director), tickets to this week's events in Portland, Maine (great for people in Boston, New England, and New York), and merchandise!
PLEASE JOIN US IN SUPPORTING BLUESTOCKING TO CREATE MORE SPACES FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS ON SCREEN!
You can connect with Bluestocking Film Series and support this unique and empowering celebration of films and women & girls on screen in the following ways:
by Kyna Morgan
"Mila" is the story of a little girl who loses her family during the war in Trento, Italy. Thanks to a young woman who comes to her rescue, Mila survives a devastating bombardment and takes cover in the woman's house. Mila clutches the last remnants of her past, a worn-out hat and a tattered carousel ticket, in her hands. In the house she finds comfort in a hidden rocking horse and music box. Both elicit memories of her mother at the carousel and spark Mila's imagination. As the woman mends what she can of Mila's hat, the bond between them is cast. The woman and girl survive the war-torn night and emerge the next day to witness the beginning of the end of the War. Confronted with their losses and drawn together through their ordeal, they find salvation in each other and the new life they then build together. (Source: Angelini & Emmes)
Both director Cinzia Angelini and producer Andrea Emmes, of the animated short film Mila about children and the horrors of war, participated in the following interview.
Mila represents the kids that are in the middle of war but the film also shows the effects of war on adults, and in particular on women that are usually the ones left behind, victims themselves along with their kids. -- Cinzia Angelini
Currently, the topic of conflict and war and the most vulnerable victims, children, is frequently in the news and of growing concern around the world. I understand that the film is inspired by your (Cinzia's) mother's experience during World War II in Italy. How and why did you both decide to approach this disturbing topic?
Cinzia: Like many people of my generation from Europe, I grew up hearing stories from WWII. In particular, one story touched me. My mom often told me how she felt as a five-year-old in the middle of bombardments in 1943. She was so terrified that she could not move or speak or scream until someone would take her to shelter. This story is not so interesting from an action stand point but the intensity of the emotions that forced my mom to be paralyzed in the middle of the conflict always made me think about the emotional intensity of what kids go through. When it was time to pick a story for my personal film, that was the story that I wanted to talk about and I am so overwhelmed to see so many people wanting to be part of Mila and help me bring that story to the big screen. I think that the personal aspect of the projects is what helps me find the energy to go forward and what attracts people to be part of it. Making a difference for the five-year-old in the middle of chaos is what keeps us going.
Andrea: We never intended for the film to be as topical and socially relevant as it is, which actually saddens us that so much suffering is happening every day. It’s scary to even just watch the news because all of the chaos, destruction and tragic loss of life. I think for me, it is not only important to reach out to everyone we can to start the conversation about children who are affected by war and what happens to them afterwards and how we can help them; but also to reach out to anyone who is battling their own personal “war stories”. We all go through challenges, struggles, etc. in our lives; that makes life difficult to wade through and it is important for everyone to choose hope, to find their inner strength and/or a community of people that can empower and encourage them to keep fighting and to persevere. For me, my biggest “war story” is living with RSD, a debilitating lifelong neurological pain disorder that I was diagnosed with in 2006. This changed my life. I was so depressed and in horrific pain, that it was so hard to focus on anything that was good. Thankfully, because of family, friends, faith, doctors, etc. I was able to work hard to find the will to “survive” and start anew. Even though I had this daily struggle, I wasn’t going to allow it to define me or change me or my aspirations. It only meant that I had to find a new perspective and avenue of making things happen. In 2010, I started working on Mila. The story of a 5-year-old little girl who loses everything - her mother, her family, her home, etc. but manages to find hope amidst her adversity, really spoke to me and validated my own life’s mission and gave me an opportunity to share this truth, this hope with others. Everyday, when we’re faced with obstacles on “Mila” that need to be fixed, or if I’m tired or overwhelmed, I’m reminded of the many Milas around the world, what they are going through and that reinvigorates me. If one person can make a difference in the world, imagine what many people can do! We can move mountains, together!
Your film is supported by UNICEF Italy. Can you explain how you connected with UNICEF and the nature of your relationship?
Andrea: We learned a while ago, especially when we realized that we would actually be able to make this film remotely with a virtual “studio” of volunteers, over 250 artists from over 25 countries, that we needed to be creative in how we approached people to come on board. Since we don’t have a big studio behind us, we do not have their kind of contacts readily available to us, so we knew that we needed to be bold, be honest and just share our story/process with as many people as we could. Because technology is so advanced, not only are we able to create our film the way we are, but we have more reach on our own through websites and social media.
Cinzia: Right, for UNICEF Italy, I decided to reach out to them via Twitter and shared with them our website, a little bit about the film and the conversation started from there. Over six months, we spoke over Twitter and email and then earlier this year when we were recording the musical score for our trailer, another amazing story of how things came together by putting out a “Call to Action” online to musicians who might be interested in volunteering. We had 150 people audition! Because of that turnout, I decided that I would fly out to Italy that weekend when we planned to record and set up a meeting/presentation with UNICEF Italy while I was there and that solidified things. They wrote an amazing statement that we’ve been allowed to use along with their logo/name and once the film is complete, they’ll become more involved in sharing our film and promoting it. We’re also looking into how we can do more with UNICEF now. Volunteering in the local chapters in the areas where our Mila Family lives around the world. We’ve also partnered with Sony Music Recording Artist/Actor Torion Sellers. He will be doing a song for our Credits/Soundtrack and will be working with us as we volunteer for UNICEF!
Will children have the chance to view Mila? What do you hope or expect the impact of your film to be (educational, policy-changing, etcetera)?
Cinzia: Absolutely! What’s great about “Mila” is that we are not depicting war as most films do. There is no blood, depiction of military or politics. There is some destruction and we show the bomber planes, but otherwise it is very kid-friendly. Also, the POV of the film is through Mila’s eyes, so we’re experiencing everything as Mila is experiencing it, which I feel kids can relate and grasp on to. Mila represents the kids that are in the middle of war but the film also shows the effects of war on adults, and in particular on women that are usually the ones left behind, victims themselves along with their kids. The woman that saves Mila physically represents all the women that suffer in the middle of war. She does save Mila from the bombings but she will be saved by Mila. Mila gives her hope, hope to go forward, fight and live, something that women are so great at! There is also another woman in the film and that is Mila’s mom that was killed in the bombings and comes back only in Mila’s dreams. She represents all the women that did die in war and are left only in our memories. The film has many characters that support Mila’s story and the hope is that this film will impact the audience at different levels.
Andrea: I definitely hope that we can start conversations to educate more children (and adults) about the destruction of war and the lasting effects it leaves with its victims. If we’re able to reach just one future leader, that could make all the difference for tomorrow. Actually, I was speaking to a friend of mine who home-schools her children and after seeing our trailer and speaking with me about the film, she shared it with her daughters and then created a lesson on the Civil War. She said it was really impactful and opened an interesting dialog between them. They wanted to know more. What happened to Mila, why did this happen, etc.? Not to give too much away, but the film isn’t completely sad and we do show how Mila has found her hope and happiness. Kids are resilient and if we give them a chance, they can inspire us and make us better people.
What do you feel is important for people to know about young victims of war as so many places around the world are confronted with an ever-increasing number of people needing help who are fleeing war-torn areas?
Andrea: These beautiful human beings are precious, as all life is precious, but they do not have the same capabilities of taking care of themselves as adults do and need to be protected. They need those who can speak for them, who can get the help and attention that they need. Also, and Cinzia can speak more on this, but children who survive war do not completely heal from their injuries. They keep the memories with them always, as what happened to them will haunt them later in life. It will most likely affect how they behave around others, noises can trigger painful flashbacks, affect how they feel about themselves, etc. There is much more damage that is done mentally and emotionally to children who suffer in this way besides what they may face physically and they might not be able to express this and receive the help they need.
Cinzia: I personally did not go through war myself but I witnessed the effects of it through my mom’s experience as a child in the middle of WWII. My mom was lucky and was exposed to bombardments for a limited time until the family escaped up the mountains seeking shelter in small villages until the war was over. She was affected by it in a smaller way than most, thankfully, but imagine children that are exposed for much longer, in a more brutal way or even exposed to multiple wars during their life. How does that affect them, how damaged are they? It really saddens me to see strong negative reactions to the refugee crisis in Europe. Yes, it’s not easy. I am Italian and lived in Italy until I moved to the U.S. in 1997. Many of my relatives and friends tell me how hard it is for them to keep seeing desperate people coming into the country. I think most people do all they can to help but, unfortunately, I don’t think the refugees are getting all the help they should from many European nations. I hope that Mila will spark in people their compassion, remind them of their grandparents that got help, that found shelter, that were saved by strangers. When I see the images of thousands of people lined up at the borders with all they own in few plastic bags and with their eyes full of hope for their children, my mind goes back to a night in September 1943 when my grandparents, a friend, two bicycles and three kids were escaping as the city was bombed. Mila will hopefully help people remember and not forget.
For more information and to support this film, please visit:
Crowdfunding campaign: Indiegogo (ends July 9, 2016)
Hashtags: #LetsMakeaDifference #LetsChooseHope
All photos, images, and video courtesy of C. Angelini and A. Emmes
by Persephone Vandegrift
I've taken support freely given from friends who want to see me succeed. It's extraordinarily humbling and at the same time some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life.
You're working on your latest feature, a ghost story, Widow's Walk, which begins shooting in November 2016. What inspired the story?
Creative England here in the UK offer grants for regional based films. I grew up in East Anglia. Good place to start. I googled “Beach house, Suffolk, film location” and found our hero's house on a location website and started writing a supernatural thriller/ghost story set there. When I realised the spirit of the woman in the house could have fallen in love with an American pilot in World War II, I saw that I could tell some of the history of my own life and of the USAF [United States Air Force] in Suffolk too. And then we were off!
Before we get to the Widow's Walk teaser, can you introduce us to a few members of the Widow’s team?
First and foremost, Matt Flanders (Producer), who is a long-time friend. He helped me get my audition for Titanic. He worked with Dede Gardner on projects such as World War Z and Twelve Years a Slave. He's been producing independently for a few years now and has a keen eye for the right notes and for bringing me back from being too sentimental or over explaining things.
Mike Myshko (Editor, DIT and Post Production Supervisor) is a digital genius of epic proportions. He is DIT, editor, VFX, colour grader, poster designer and post-production supervisor. We have worked on several short films together and he was the one that convinced me we could make WW for the much smaller budget we are going for.
Dan Milne (Producer)
[We] went to drama school together a million years ago. He's a theatre director and performance maker with his production company WONDERBAR. He produced the upcoming You Were Never Here directed by Camille Thoman with Sam Shepard and Mireille Enos.
Bronwyn Cornelius (Executive Producer)
Bronwyn produced You Were Never Here with Dan and came on board as executive producer after she read and loved the script.
James Seymour Brett (Composer)
James wrote the music for my short films Boxer on the Wilderness and A Kick in the Grass. He's based at Abbey Road studios and has promised me I can conduct the orchestra (for about 16 bars only!) when we record the sound track.
Mustafa Bal (sound designer)
He created the sound for Boxer on the Wilderness, which is one of my favourite elements of the film. So, much can be told with the right soundscape. He will record sounds on set and be the sound designer, again creating a one-stop-shop for that department.
Tell us a bit more about your production company, NEW THIRTY PICTURES.
I formed the company when I was fifty years old – because fifty is the new thirty, right? I needed a production company to make my projects, so at the moment we have in development, or are producing, the scripts that I've written. There's the boxing film (The Wilderness); the supernatural thriller (Widow's Walk); a TV series about the underbelly of London in post WW2 Soho, a sort of British Sopranos meets Martina Cole's The Take with a female Tony Soprano. And a romantic comedy (or tragedy!) about a woman who lives on a houseboat – my love letter to London and the river Thames.
Have there been any particular challenges you have faced between finishing your last film, Boxer on the Wilderness, and starting Widow's Walk?
Money. Money. Money. In focusing all my attention on getting Widow's Walk written, funded and produced, I've put less and less focus on my acting and other work. I've gone through my savings and pared down my life to the bare minimum. I've taken support freely given from friends who want to see me succeed. It's extraordinarily humbling and at the same time some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I'm on some self-centered and crazy wild goose chase that only I care about I'm crazy if I think it's never going to happen. But that is changing.
We like to hear what the chatter is around a filmmaker's environment -- as you are in the UK, is there a strong support for inspiring more women to get involved in the industry in your area?
Yes there is but I can't say it's in the UK alone. The views from Hollywood and the independent film world still filter through very strongly. It's already clear that having a female director is helping with this film. In preparation for the trailer, we made our new website for Widow's Walk and shared the new URL on Twitter (@Widows_Walk) and Facebook (fb.com/WidowsWalkMovie). After only a few days TWO female film festivals asked if they could screen the film this year. We haven't shot one frame yet.
After a stunning report by Directors UK that over the last ten years less than 14% of British films had been directed by women, the BFI [British Film Institute] have just pledged to make their financial support for women 50/50 by 2020.
I get the feeling that being a woman and saying I'm making a film has a resonating hashtag element to it but let's be clear, I'm not being 'held back' from making a film because I'm in a perceived minority or because the percentage of women directors is too low. I'd hate that anyway. I'm not making films because I'm not a man. The same rules apply. It's very tough whoever you are and being a self-starter is key. I'm making films because I love it and every filmmaker – man or woman – should be doing the same.
The teaser for Widow’s Walk; where did you film it and who’s the actress who braved those cold waves to give such a provocative glimpse of what to expect from the feature?
The teaser was shot in Suffolk in our hero's house location back in November 2015. That brave actress who got into the North Sea for us is Emma Connell.
First teaser released for upcoming Widow's Walk is here! Watch below.
For more info:
New Thirty Pictures: www.newthirtypictures.com
Widow’s Walk on Twitter: @widows_walk
Alexandra Boyd on Twitter: @AlexActWrDir
Widow’s Walk website: www.widowswalkfilm.com
Boxer on the Wilderness: @BoxerWilderness
by Persephone Vandegrift
Gina Scalzi is an actor, writer and producer. She wrote the screenplay for the upcoming short film Close Distance Focus, currently in pre-production.
Women who are working creatively and wanting to tell stories can benefit from the unorthodox new directions in storytelling.
Currently you are very much an artist of many creative trades across the entertainment world, can you tell us how/when you started in the industry?
I knew I wanted to be a performer as a kid. The focus was dance, and for my most formative years, nothing but. My mindset is still strangely “choreographic” – if that makes any sense – and music remains my muse. Disciplined fluidity. I trained and studied, and as a dancer, opportunities came to expand into musical theater, and eventually I transitioned into acting, and now beyond that as well. Growth meant change and exploration for me. I suppose it does when you start the journey as a kid.
You mention being involved with First Nations writers and filmmakers, how did that come about?
It was, as so many of the expansive opportunities in my life have been, a byproduct of research. In this case, it was serendipity really. I grew up back East, and was mistaken for Native American as a little kid. Perhaps that identification followed me, but the history and culture was fascinating to me. I wrote a feature screenplay, years ago, as part of a workshop assignment, with no great ambition, and the preparation period allowed me to justify delving into the culture and history and approach various resources as part of that process. Years later, I am now in a community where part of that realized plot played out and I find myself getting a consult with a historian who, like me, finds himself contributing to the community he is researching, and months later I am part of a committee myself, lending my voice-over to their crowdfunding, working with Native American intertribal organizations on a grassroots level. The research periods of the work seem to naturally lead to this. Similarly, I worked on a film called The Sensei and found myself working with PFLAG, the Matthew Sheppard Foundation, and film festivals who were giving the cause a voice. This again, was a film that was being led by a fierce woman, Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of Bruce Lee’s martial arts student Dan Inosanto. The two situations are very similar.
Though we have some cherished examples of women really making it happen in film, media, publishing...there is a huge pool of talent, much of it untapped
As Her Film Project focuses on women in the entertainment industry, what have been some key challenges and triumphs (personal and/or professional & links if you like) that you've experienced over the years?
I have been incredibly lucky to have worked with some amazing women in film. Diana Lee Inosanto, being directed by her and seeing her process, was a bit of a revelation. She was tireless, felt absolutely no sense of entitlement, was completely engaged in the making of the film on every level – she brought a motherhood sense of leadership to the set… and her life. It was a revelation to see the power of that maternal leadership. She was up against a lot, she and her film were seen as a “risk”, and her perseverance was really incredible – her cast and crew were so dedicated to her and the intention and tribute that were the story behind that film. The trials – let’s be honest, there are incredible trials across the board – but I think what Diana did so well was never lose touch that, though we have some cherished examples of women really making it happen in film, media, publishing, that there is a huge pool of talent, much of it untapped, and that means a HUGE pool of competition – made all the more competitive because there is so much talent with fewer opportunities. The fact that a woman succeeding on the highest level is unique does not mean there is less competition for that success, rather the opposite. The most successful women making film that I’ve met, whether in independent film, martial arts, LGBT, Native American media, what have you, are in touch with the fact that being a female doesn’t make you unique - we are 50% of the population and there is a lot of absolutely amazing talent out there. You’ve got to deliver. You can’t rely on the “novelty” of being a “female filmmaker” to carry you, because there are some crazy wonderful women in film raising the bar.
You've acted, written and produced, are there other positions in the industry you are looking to explore?
What seems to have been a natural expansion is this learning curve we’re on regarding marketing, exposure, and promotion, and increasingly how we need to commit to getting material seen on multiple platforms. There’s no plugging into a magic equation. I’ve been increasingly lending my part to the promotion of projects I am working on whether as an actor, producer, or writer, beyond the parameters set by those roles traditionally. Getting a film made is one miracle, being part of making it independently is another, getting it seen is another, and then being able to make the next. It’s amazing to see the epic lengths being taken to get work realized, the exhaustive work projects go through, and what is being made with so very few resources. There are some incredible people doing work with such necessary creativity and innovation, simply because they are so limited in their resources and so very bound and determined to see the project through. The intestinal fortitude alone is inspirational - seeing projects being made with such professionalism while making the most of so few resources. I spoke with a woman last year who had lived and worked on and with the people of Pine Ridge reservation and it was literally her home for years in the making of the film, because she physically uprooted and made it her home. She’s received critical acclaim, ad continues to, and her success continues because she is still just, persisting. On the other hand, a few years ago I worked with a female music producer, Diana Gomes, to independently release a CD set of my brother’s music. It was an expansive process, but after being a part of that process and seeing the incredible effort Diana gave to it, I consider it a labor of love I may not be able to repeat.
Currently you have a couple projects on the go, a short film in production and you are in development on a very interesting project about Rankin Scott Kelly. First, give us a little background on the short.
I’m in London working with a three-woman, international team (US, Poland, UK) on a short film for Raindance Film Institute. We make a triangle – it’s a metaphor that runs through the project. I wrote the short as a single scene study for a workshop and when I met the Producer, from Poland, and heard her thoughts on the treatment, it seemed obvious that her vision would serve the story and expand it. We’ve gotten particular support from Elliot Grove we never could’ve asked for. The re-writes have been such a genuinely organic process and it has evolved into a period piece with contemporary relevance, in a way I couldn’t have imagined before understanding her perspective of the history behind the project that, as an American and English-speaker, is not even on my radar.
The Producer and I had contributed to a short film I worked on as an Associate Producer. The film premiered at the London Film Festival and won a Spotlight Silver Award (2015) in Atlanta and in turn, the filmmaker is now contributing talent to our Close Distance Focus. I introduced her to our third creative, who’s worked behind the camera in London and Vancouver, and then we made three.
The story behind Rankin Scott Kelly, one of the first sheriffs in the “wild west,” is a natural offshoot of the Native American exploration. I approached a historian asking for a consultation on accuracy and credibility regarding some scenes I had written about a tribal custom he had done a great deal of research on, and protection of. Working directly with the tribe who were removed from the lands where this custom took place, his research, like mine, had turned to action and advocacy. As he was consulting for me and reading my scripts pages for authenticity, he was exploring this true story about a little known historical figure who had interacted with many of the Native Americans who practiced this custom. Next thing I know, he’s on set being interviewed on the subject for PBS and the producer he is working with is looking for these kinds of stories for narrative film. She gets us in touch with another producer and both of these women are dedicated to finding and developing these types of historical dramas. By the end of 2015, the historian had asked me to come on as co-writer, and we have been working with them on the feature screenplay. There were moments when writing in this genre has left me chanting a mantra to Marilynne Robinson [author of Gilead]. The generosity of these women is, again, such a huge part of the evolution of the story.
A final statement if you'd like, addressing your journey thus far, advice, other opportunities to suggest for women trying to break in that you have observed there is less 'push back' (if there is such a place...) and whatever you feel inspired to address.
I was sitting with a friend of mine last year, just about this time, who was in the midst of making the rounds of film festivals with a period piece she’d made. She’d been well received and proud of the work she’d done, but was still seeing obstacles as she made her way to the next step. As the entertainment industry evolves – as independent film, feature narrative and documentary, and now internet, web-series and streaming platforms gain and lose ground at what feels like an ever changing rate, what it seems to me is that women who are working creatively and wanting to tell stories can benefit [from] the unorthodox new directions in storytelling. If you are telling stories and your audience is finding content on alternative platforms – go there, work on those platforms whatever they may be, and find your audience.
Learn more about Gina Scalzi's work at IMDb, on Facebook, her website, and her blog.
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It was our first time to Portland (Her Film Project founder Kyna Morgan) and also our first time to Maine when we flew in to be at the Bluestocking Film Series and its fifth anniversary this year. Bluestocking celebrates women’s stories on screen and is the only film festival in the world to require submissions to pass the Bechdel Test. Headed up by exuberant, passionate, and totally punk rock Kate Kaminski, the series takes place every year over the course of two days. This year, we enjoyed seeing the films in the SPACE Gallery, with both nights completely sold out.
As a summer intern with Her Film Project, the experience was totally new to me. I’m interested in arts and journalism, and travel, too, but had never been so exposed to film before. Also, it was my first time meeting filmmakers. We were invited to the filmmakers breakfast which included directors Brittany Shyne from the U.S. (who brought her film The Painted Lady), Lucy Griffin from Australia (who brought her film Sunroom), Maureen O’Connell from Ireland (who brought her film Girls) and Carin Brack from Sweden (who brought her film Stovlarna (The Boots)). Some flicks that I loved were Mother’s Day by Nico Raineau (@NicoRaineau), American Gladiators by Lara Jean Gallagher (@LaraJeanGal), The Painted Lady by Brittany Shyne, and Gabi by Zoé Salicrup Junco. I didn’t realize how developed stories could be in such a short format (all the films were shorts).
I was really invested in the main character in Mother’s Day who was stuck with a stranger’s kid all day while she had to work as a housekeeper, and it had a funny twist at the end I didn’t see coming (no spoilers here, though)! The Painted Lady was incredibly deep and dealt with the subject of menstruation in a nine-year old girl’s life. I liked the Puerto Rican film Gabi as well. The color palette was really warm and it helped to establish a feeling, despite the main character Gabi’s problems with her family, that everything would be alright in the end. American Gladiators was completely relatable, sibling-wise, because I have a younger brother!
Before going to Bluestocking, I didn’t know about the different genres of movies. One of the films we saw was experimental: Osveta by Reggie Burrows Hodges which screened the first night. I actually found that film off-putting, but it was interesting nevertheless. I hadn’t seen an experimental film ever before.
We heard from filmmakers in Q&As on both nights, and it was interesting to hear from Prize Juror, Kellee Terrell (also a filmmaker who previously brought a film to Bluestocking) talk about the double responsibility she feels as a woman filmmaker and an African American filmmaker. Through her work, she is trying to normalize Black films and women-focused films, which I find inspiring!
Bluestocking was a great experience for me; it’s opened doors for me I didn’t know existed and has sparked a new interest for me in film and filmmaking.
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Start gearing up for next year's amazing Bluestocking Film Series in Portland, Maine, a champion of the all too often elusive #complexfemaleprotagonist. At one of the most unique and empowering film festivals around, all films chosen for the program must pass the Bechdel Test. That means that there have to be: