Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Highlights from the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival

Sunset 5 Theater, West Hollywood, CA.
I flew out to Los Angeles on Friday, March 25, 2011. I was looking forward to sunny skies and warmer temperatures, unfortately that wasn't the case. I didn't get the sunny, Beach Boys California weather until my last day there. Instead I got rain and cloudy skies, but I guess it beat whatever was happening on the east coast. Luckily, I wasn't in town for the weather, I was there to attend the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival.

For those of you who neglected to read my last blog entry, the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival is a non-profit 501c(3) organization established by Diana Means to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women. Each year in March the festival showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films. The festival’s programming reflects Diana’s commitment to educate and inform audiences of social political and health issues impacting women globally.

I was both honored and excited to be a part of a festival that solely focused on films written, produced, and directed by women. I was in the company of some fantastic women filmmakers. Many thanks go out to Diana Means, her volunteers, and the attendees who made this year's fest a worth while event. Below are my "top seven" highlights from this year's festival.


Posing with Richard Riehle after the screening
of Head Over Spurs in Love.
 7. The Screening of Head Over Spurs in Love: In this romantic bro comedy, directed by Ana Zins, Joe runs into the love of his life, the one that got away, visiting home for the holiday. The kick is, it's on the eve of his wedding nuptials to the girl he's settling for. Now, Joe has one night to find out if Amy still loves him before he marries Daisy with no regrets. After the screening there was a great Q&A with the director, producer, and cast. Getting a photo with Richard Reihle was an added bonus.
6. The Screening of Atomic Mom:
This feature length documentary produced and directed by M.T. Silvia tells the story of two lives, two mothers, affected by the atom bomb - that of a scientist involved in the post-war development and testing of the bomb and the one on whom it was unleashed. M.T.'s film like many documentaries is a true labor of love. It took her six years to complete this story, of an American Scientist and a Hiroshima Survivor finding peace decades after the bombing, empowers individuals and communities to work toward global unity. The film inspires dialogue about human rights, personal responsibility, and the possibility – and hope – of peace.


5. Networking with Fellow Filmmakers: One of the main reasons filmmakers attend festivals outside of promoting and getting their film in front of an audience is to network with colleagues. It was great to see the film's of other women filmmakers and know hear our universal struggles as women. I met some people who are great visual storytellers. I plan to stay in touch. Ladies you know who you are.

Poster of Finding Jenua outside of the theater.
4. The Screening of Finding Jenua: This is the feature film debut of screenwriter and director Alison Mason. It's a poignant story about love, loss and finding one's place in the world. A drama with mystery that's told in an unconventional way, unraveling like a memory and tying us back together with the simple beauty of human connection. The film will screen next at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival. Congratulations to Alison and her cast.
3. Attending the Distribution Workshop Luncheon by Akua Boyenne: It is so easy to forget about the business side in the film business. Classes aren't really taught on it, instead screenwriters and filmmakers are charged with honing their craft and learning the aestitics behind the process. To many artist don't know what to do when they finally get to a point when they're ready to ink a distribution deal. Luckily, we had Akua Boyenne, an entertainment lawyer to school us on the main points and terminology within a theatrical distribution contract. She gave two phenominal workshops on Negotiating The Theatrical Agreenment and Self Distribution- Exploring Alternative Distribution. While I won't need to use the information at this time, it is something I can go back to and always have when I'm ready to start talking distribution for my script idea or film.


2. The Screening of Real-Life Mallory: This was one of my favorite shorts of the festival.It's a powerful short film written and directed by R.L. Maynard that humanely deals with the subject of euthanasia.When Mallory, the lead charater finds out some devasting news about her health, she makes a life changing decisision. She must overcome her friend's denial, anger, and depression at a good-bye dinner. I was drawn into Mallory's story instantly and felt the rollercoaster of emotions the characters were grapling with.  I look forward to seeing more films written and directed by Renee.


Renee, Aaliyah, and Cynthia posing for a picture
before the screening of After the Headlines

1. The Screening of After the Headlines: It was great to have After the Headlines in front of a new audience and the Q&A by Diana Means with the other filmmakers in my program was a memorable experience I won't soon forget. A special thank you to Renee, Alison, Cynthia, Shannon, and Patty. You ladies rock!!

I had many positive takeaways from this festival, but my biggest is that women screenwriters and filmmakers need to keep telling the stories we want to tell. There are film festivals and communities that will embrace our stories.There's an audience for the films I want to write despite what industry insiders say. Getting to this stage is hard work and getting your film onto a screen for a general audience is even harder work, but I'm encouraged and reengergized about the creative process. I also have my business lens on too. Time to get back to the work. I'm ready.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aaliyah,

Thank you, so much, for the kind words about the film. It is truly wonderful to know that the piece affected you as it did. Moreover, that you saw the story of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide as one of a human choice and a basic human right is beyond meaningful.

as we've spoken of, your piece touched me in so many ways. While I can only imagine the emotional torment of such loss as Klara experienced, I was uplifted by her decision at the end - one of the most difficult decisions anyone could make. I was right there with her. THANK YOU, for a truly inspiring piece.

LA was a wonderful experience - for my first festival, I felt so supported by wonderful female enrgy and hope they could all be like this. I'm honored to have met you, presented with you and look forward to working together, very soon.


Yours in Film,


R. L. Maynard

Diana Means said...

I had several goals in mind when I created this festival. One was to provide a platform for women filmmakers to share their unique voice through film. Another was to provide a space for women to network and support each other. After reading your post I feel that I accomplished both of these goals. Thanks for your positive feedback and thanks for being a part of the 2011 festival. I know we will meet again. Until then blessing and much success!!

Anonymous said...

Aaliyah,
I appreciated reading your highlights of "The Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival"! It was a great opportunity to meet some amazing filmmakers and to watch some fantastic films! I am especially grateful... to have had the opportunity to meet you! I'm looking forward to us developing a long lasting friendship! Your blog is awesome!!!! :)
Patty Richardson

dirtywater22 said...

Ladies,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the blog. It is greatly appreciated:)

People Make The World Go Round said...

Yeah! Aaliyah...

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