by Kyna Morgan
Bluestocking Film Series has for seven years been a leader in the film community and the building of a global movement to represent, celebrate, and cultivate strong and complex female protagonists in film. This year, Bluestocking is going on the road to take the program to different cities, and coming up in a few days is the Los Angeles screening of Bluestocking 2017 (presented by CineFemme). Read on for an interview about the festival with Kate Kaminski, founder and artistic director of the Bluestocking Film Series.
Kyna Morgan: This year is the seventh anniversary of Bluestocking. After now having passing your early 'start-up' years, what drives you to continue this endeavor?
Kate Kaminski: Bluestocking is mission-driven, meaning I'm driven to continue because I believe women's voices and stories are culturally important and they must be told in equal numbers. But, as we know, this equity has not been reached (yet). I am also a film lover and the majority of what I see playing at the movie theaters features male protagonists. Hollywood's obsession with superheroes and gun play, not to mention the dearth of meaty, meaningful featured roles for diverse women of all ages, make the films seem recycled and tired, if not downright awful. I want to see a full range of women and girls represented on-screen in fresh stories and situations, you know, like life!
KM: You're also a filmmaker and an instructor of film in Maine. What do you see going on with New England filmmaking or even your own students, (some of whom will be the filmmakers of tomorrow), that interests you or that you find exciting, especially with regard to how women and girls are represented on screen?
KK: In terms of indie filmmaking in New England, I'm not as up on that as I could be but your prompt makes me realize I better get on it! I don't see an uptick in fuller representation of women and girls onscreen or behind the camera in Maine, where the community is still overwhelmingly white male-dominated. I would like to help change that and, as an educator, I'm deeply committed to mentoring my students (of all genders) to understand that the hegemony in cultural storytelling leaves out so many vital voices. Students often have this "wow" moment when I expose them to that deceptively simple fact. Then they realize what’s missing, and I’ve had many tell me they can’t look at films the same way anymore.
KM: How do you see the conversation around women's representation on screen and in the film industry changing over the past few years, and where do you think it's going?
KK: I think mainstream awareness of the ugly reality of gender inequality in the U.S. film industry has become more prevalent. Social media seems to be a prime mover of that awareness, but it’s broken through in the mainstream press, too. More and more people are coming to understand that women and girls have not been given a fair share of screen time (again, whether behind or in front of the camera). I'm not convinced this awareness has yet deeply permeated into the top floor offices, to those (primarily) older white men who make decisions about which films will be made and by whom. I’m sure you know that neither Fox nor Paramount has a single woman-directed project on their rosters for 2018, so that doesn't bode particularly well for female representation on cineplex movie screens in the near future. But they won’t be in charge forever, and I remain highly optimistic that indie filmmakers can have a huge impact (and influence) working outside “the system.” We consumers can also have a big impact on gender inequity by showing strong support for women-directed, female-driven films at the box office and on the small screen. We have the power to demand better stories and fuller representation if we exercise it.
KM: Where can people find Bluestocking this year?
KK: Bluestocking will spend 2017 traveling to towns across Maine, the country and around the world. The whirlwind begins on June 23 in Los Angeles at the historic Egyptian Theatre when we’ll premiere our 2017 selections. Our goal for this year’s traveling exhibition of female-driven short films is to put Bluestocking’s mission in front of as many new audiences as we can. With luck, we’ll be back in Maine for the full festival experience in 2018.
Connect with Bluestocking Films:
(The June 23 screening in Los Angeles is currently sold out through Fandango, but get in touch with Kate Kaminski through the social media or website links below to inquire about possible ticket availability)