Saving Pickfair Studios / West Hollywood 4/1/12 at 1p.m.

Filmmaker Allison Anders will be leading a protest tomorrow (Sunday, April 1) at 1:00 pm in West Hollywood, California, to save Pickfair Studios (Pickford-Fairbanks) which is scheduled for demolition.  The studio is a major part of Hollywood, film and American history, an independent studio created in 1922 by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks which was also once known as United Artists.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please consider going to the protest to show your support.  Allison Anders is tweeting about this at @MsAllisonAnders and there is a blog set up with a lot of details on the studio and the importance of saving it.

Visit the blog by clicking here.

Sign the petition to support the preservation of Pickfair Studios by clicking here.

Women’s Stories Weekly

“Ladies Special” Theme at the Muscat International Film Festival





The 7th Annual Muscat International Film Festival in Oman held a specially themed day earlier this week: “Ladies Special,” which featured the Indian actress-filmmaker Nandita Das and Her Highness Basma Al Said (of Oman).  The talk was followed by a screening of the 1995 female-focused film Waiting to Exhale, co-written by Terry McMillan and based on her novel of the same name.

Das spoke of her work as a director as well as her work with the Children’s Society of India and the effort it takes to make children’s films: “We are trying to make quality films for children. It is a struggle because economics interferes with art.” (Hmm, a universal truth of filmmaking?)

Read the entire story at the Times of Oman.

Wellywood Woman Interview w/Director of Alice Walker Documentary

Marian Evans of Wellywood Woman posted her latest podcast on Sunday which features an interview with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar who is working on a feature documentary about her friend Alice Walker, the writer, activist and poet.  The film, Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, “tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th Century” (  It’s a brilliant interview by Marian, and a stimulating discussion between two women who are both motivated to share women’s stories.  Marian (@devt) is a vigorous supporter of the film and you can follow the film on twitter, too, @AliceWalkerFilm.  Check out the conversation and become a fellow supporter by spreading the word.

Listen to the interview at Wellywood Woman.

One Way or Another Conference on Women in LatAm Cinema

Alongside the Toulouse Film Festival in France this week, a conference was held to discuss the participation of women in Latin American cinema.  The One Way or Another Conference focused on the move of women in cinema from acting to directing, writing and producing (and beyond).  Included in the discussion was “the treatment of women’s problems in films, including sexism, gender inequality and violence.”  The conference takes its name from a film directed by the late filmmaker Sarah Gomez; she was the first Cuban woman to shoot a fiction film.

Read the entire story at Prensa Latina.

Two African American Female Directors Book New Films

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood blogged earlier this week about director Gina Prince-Blythewood signing on to direct Before I Fall based on a book by Lauren Oliver, and Kasi Lemmons signing on to adapt and direct the Zadie Smith novel On Beauty.  Prince-Bythewood also directed Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees, while Lemmons has directed Eve’s Bayou and Talk To Me.

Kasi Lemmons



This is extremely exciting news not only because two African American women will be directing films, but for personal reasons for me as Zadie Smith is one of my favorite writers and anything that will allow people to be exposed to her work — whether it’s actually sitting down and reading it or watching a film adaptation — is a great thing!  Wow, I can’t WAIT to see these films released.

Read the details over at Women and Hollywood.

INTERVIEW: Kate Kaminski of the Bluestocking Film Series


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.

Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

Her Film:  Your biannual film series is the only one in the world (as far as I know) to require films submitted for consideration to pass the now-famous Bechdel Test.  Can you talk about the importance of the Bechdel Test to you as a festival runner and what impact you see it having within filmmaking?

Kate Kaminski: The Bechdel Test is a crucial piece of the Bluestocking Film Series because as you point out, after the main requirement that the director of a film be a woman, we’re using it as the most basic criteria for entries.

When we set out on this journey a year ago, our motivation was that we really just wanted to see more films that explored women’s lives, our experiences, and our relationships with each other – separate from men. I’m not a big fan of commercial filmmaking in general because I’ve grown utterly bored by the male-centered POV that carries most films you would see at your local multiplex. Of course the Bechdel Test is deceptively simple and doesn’t guarantee a particularly female-positive slant nor does it make a film necessarily feminist.

In some ways, it’s proving to be way harder than I ever imagined it would be. I keep getting submissions from very worthy women directors and the films don’t pass. I can’t figure out if these submitters aren’t reading the “fine print” – though we try to put the Bechdel Test front and center wherever we advertise the BFS – or if they’re just hoping we’ll ignore it. It’s almost disheartening.

Filmmaker Betsy Carson. (Photo credit: Judy Beedle Photography) Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

I suppose I was a bit naïve to think a) that it would be cinch to get loads of woman-directed films that b) passed the Bechdel. That being said, I’m now digging in for the long haul and standing by my commitment to the test as a basic criteria – and, believe me, I’ve met with some pressure to jettison it. I’ve also had some very positive responses from women filmmakers about our using it as a basis for entry.

As far as the Bechdel Test having an impact within filmmaking, I would have to say, from what I see, the answer is…not so much. At least, not yet. Frankly, it’s not enough to make a film that passes the test unless the impetus is to express a deeper understanding of what the test implies about women’s stories and their importance to all of us. It’s my hope that the BFS will generate discussion – and production! – among women filmmakers – and maybe even spark a revolution. I’m all about a cinematic revolt in this country – for all genders, races, and beliefs.


HF:  Is the BFS for you part of a larger feminist engagement with the community and with women filmmakers?  How does the series specifically fit within your mission as an artist and/or as a female artist?

KK: It’s definitely about engaging with other women filmmakers. Living in Maine, my filmmaking partner (Betsy Carson) and I sometimes feel lonely and marginalized.

Production still from 20/20. (Photo credit: Judy Beedle Photography) Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

I don’t necessarily see the BFS as a vehicle for showing our own films, though I’m tempted to try to convince Betsy to make one with me specifically for the series. For me, the BFS is much more about going outside our little corner of the world and bringing back to our community woman-directed films that would otherwise never be seen and that also express the rich diversity of our experience as women. It’s not about excluding men – it’s about introducing women’s voices into the mix. Back in the 90’s we had a women’s film festival here and it didn’t last. There was also a Maine Women and Girls Film Festival but I don’t think they’re doing that anymore either. We’ll see how this goes. I choose to believe that we have an audience – that people of all genders are hungry for what we want to show them.

As far as feminism is concerned, I’m increasingly dismayed by the cultural shift away from that as a positive value, so, yes, it’s also about a feminist agenda. I would definitely like to see more women making films that express feminist ideas.

Still from the webseries "Willard Beach." (Photo credit: Judy Beedle Photography) Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

HF:  As you hold the biannual Bluestocking Film Series, what are you finding audiences’ reactions to the films to be?  And what types of audiences are you seeing? (i.e. are they diverse in race, gender, class, age, etc.?)

KK: Well, we’ve only had one screening – last October – so our track record is short. But the audience last October was amazing. Very enthusiastic – very supportive – and we were only half a dozen seats away from completely sold out, so I’d say it was a rousing success, especially when you consider that we didn’t have a budget for advertising, etc.

The make up of the audience was young and old, women and men. But as far as racial diversity, you may not know that Maine is one of the “whitest” states in the nation. We are also a very poor state, economically, and not everybody has even the $5 we charged for that premiere screening. Unfortunately, we do have to raise the ticket price going forward, so it comes down to (literally) who can afford to shell out $10-15 for a “special event” like this – not everybody can do that.

Film poster for 20/20. (Poster design: Holly Valero) Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

As we move forward with the series, we’re discussing taking it on the road and traveling around the East coast with it. We’d also like to expand it ultimately to the internet, as an online festival – it kind of goes without saying that the online world offers incredible diversity both in the filmmakers and audience.


HF:  I’ve read perspectives on women’s film festivals that are both positive and negative, positive meaning that women’s film festivals provide a forum for women-made films, and negative because these festivals could be considered a type of “ghettoization” of women-made films.  As a filmmaker and festival runner, do you find yourself torn between these perspectives, or do you give credence to the negative perspective at all?

KK: To me, this idea of the ghetto is a patriarchal construct – let’s face it, one person’s ghetto is another person’s community so I’m actually fine with it regardless. And women’s film festivals level the playing field…at least theoretically.

BFS poster. (Poster design: Holly Valero) Image courtesy of K. Kaminski

HF:  The recent documentary film Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom on media representations and political involvement of women and girls has helped bring the phrase “You can’t be what you can’t see” to the fore.   Filmmakers whose films are selected for the BFS see their work shown to other women, so how do you see this interaction and engagement between and among women and women artists affecting what they consider to be possible?  In other words, do you see a broader consciousness shift happening to which the BFS may be contributing? 

KK: I think it’s absolutely critical to feel like you’re part of the “guild” of filmmakers, part of the craft and history of the art when you’re making films. And, by its nature, art is inclusive – but if you’re a woman making films about the experience of being female, it can seem like your work is “out of sync” with “what you see” [being made by mostly male filmmakers]. To be a small part of a bigger wave of “possibility” for women in the arts is exciting. I would dearly love to see a consciousness shift and if the BFS can contribute to that, it would be a beautiful thing.


The film entry deadline for the Spring 2012 Bluestocking Film Series is April 15.  The screening will be held on May 20, 2012.

To learn more about the BFS and to connect with this filmmaker, check out these links:

Website: Bluestocking Film Series

Website: St. Lawrence Arts Center’s BFS page

Facebook: Gitgo Productions

Twitter: @GitGoProd

Webseries: Willard Beach (by Kate Kaminski and Betsy Carson)

REVIEW: “The Future” (2011)

“The Future” (2011)

A Film by Miranda July

Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) live a quiet life in L.A. until they decide to adopt a stray cat that is terminally ill.  They can’t get “Paw-Paw” right away so they have to wait a month before they can pick him up.  They both start to see life in a different light and start to adapt accordingly, quitting their jobs and keeping their eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

Jason finds himself going door to door selling trees to help reduce global warming.  His organization’s goal is to plant a million trees.  He purchases a used hair dryer and befriends the previous owner, spending more and more time with him when he sees how lonely the man is.

Sophie also quits her job and promises her friends that she will record herself doing 30 dances in 30 days.  She can’t quite muster up the courage to do this and never even sends one out.  She is frustrated that Jason seems to have all these fantastic and moving experiences while she has yet to encounter anything.

While at the shelter, Sophie notices a drawing and decides to purchase it.  The artist is there and his daughter has left his home number on the back of the drawing.  He runs a banner and sign company.  On a whim she calls him and ends up going to his home under the false pretense that she needs a sign.  What follows is the start of the demise of Sophie and Jason’s relationship.

Throughout the film you hear the narrative of Paw-Paw who is an interesting addition to the film with his childlike, yet somewhat creepy, voice.  The cat feels so happy to be waiting for Sophie and Jason to return and finally feels like he belongs.   Paw-Paw has had such a sad life and is hoping for a fresh start with Jason and Sophie.  It was a nice touch to hear about life from Paw-Paw’s perspective.

The film has some mystical qualities such as being able to stop time.  It’s done in a way where it seems realistic enough to the main characters, and you see them struggle with getting a grip on their own realities.  Miranda July (as Sophie), throws in some of her performance art here and there in some majorly awkward but silly scenes.   In one interesting performance art scene she realizes that she made a huge mistake in leaving Jason.  He knew and accepted her much more than anyone else.  July doesn’t disappoint by bringing her own quirky style to the film as shown in her previous work (see below).


Lotus Wollschlager is the official Her Film movie reviewer.  Find her bio on the Her Film Reviews page.


More information on Miranda July:

The Future website and its Oracle transmedia component biography

Learning to Love You More (website archive of web/non-web project)

Joanie 4 Jackie (archives of chainletter video movement founded by July)

Women’s Stories Weekly

Melissa Harris-Perry Talks w/Margaret Cho & Jenn Pozner

WATCH the full discussion on the MHP Show page at

In case you missed it on Sunday of this week, professor and new politics & culture talk show host, Melissa Harris-Perry (of the show “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC) had an incredibly refreshing and of course, intelligent, conversation about feminism, bullying, young people’s & LGBT teens’ self-esteem, and unrealistic media representations with one of my long-time heroines, Margaret Cho (@margaretcho), and someone I’ve just recently come to know (via twitter &  her website) and admire, Jennifer Pozner.

In case you don’t know who Margaret Cho is, where have you been living?  She’s a brilliant comedienne, activist, writer, actress, cultural critic and dare I say, a public intellectual (in the traditional, non-academic kind of way that existed before about 1950, and not the professor-turned-pundit way we think of public intellectuals today).  Jennifer Pozner came into the discussion a bit later and lent her expertise.  She’s founder and executive director of Women in Media & News (and tweets @jennpozner).

Melissa Harris-Perry Show w/guest Margaret Cho (Pt. 1 of 2)

It was so exciting to see and listen to, and if you saw the Her Film twitter feed from Sunday, you knew I was so happy to see it that I was practically up on my couch dancing around.  Like I said then, when was the last time you saw three women sit around a table on national television and have an intelligent discussion of feminist issues?  Thank you, MSNBC, for the MHP Show, what an amazing contribution to politics and cultural discourse!  Watch it on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 10AM-12noon on MSNBC.

MHP Show w/guests Margaret Cho & Jenn Pozner (Pt. 2 of 2)


CNN Blog Gives Lengthy Attention to Miss Representation

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s latest documentary film, Miss Representation, which premiered on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) in November 2011 continues to pick up steam.  It has screened in dozens of venues across most U.S. states, and CNN explores the film’s content, people who’ve lent their names to it (being interviewed for the film, such as Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Pozner, Geena Dvais, Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, and many more people), and talks about recent screenings at Auburn University in Alabama, Emory University in Atlanta, and Sistah Cinema in Seattle.

Also mentioned is the documentary America the Beautiful and its follow-up America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments.  These films delve into the gross and offensive ways of representing girls and women in the media, and Miss Representation has a pretty stellar action and education campaign underway that includes ways to battle against negative images on a daily basis as well as mentor a girl you know to provide her with alternatives when it comes to internalizing these negative images.  You can take the pledge by clicking here.


ITVS Holds Month-Long Women and Girls Lead Online Film Fest

Thanks to The Mary Sue: a guide to girl geek culture (an awesome site), I heard of the Independent Television Service’s month-long online film festival this March, so this week we’ve landed in the middle of it but not to worry, there are still 14 days left in the month.  You can watch 11 different documentaries about women and girls by both female and male directors, including Abigail Disney’s brilliant series (recently aired on PBS), Women, War & Peace, along with We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân (by Anne Makepeace) about the Massachusetts Wampanoag nation and its attempts to save their language, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater) about the Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist who recently passed away, and several more.  Take a look at The Mary Sue’s article about two of the films, and then visit the Women and Girls Lead Online Film Festival site.


New Doc Tells Story of Women in Japan After 2011 Disaster

Filmmaker and journalist, Kyoko Gasha, will be screening her new documentary, Never Surrender at the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taiwan this weekend, and will screen in several other countries this year.  Her documentary focuses on the strength of Japanese women during the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster and the reconstruction that’s currently happening.  Gasha understands disaster, and understands evacuation; in 2011, she had to evacuate her New York City home after the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.  After spending 10 days in northeastern Japan and interviewing 50 people, Gasha has come away with a documentary that shares something about the process of rebuilding a life.  Kyoko Gasha is planning on following the stories of these women for years to come.  Read the entire article on Focus Taiwan News Channel.


WIFT UAE Launches Short Film Fest About Muslim Women

The recently formed United Arab Emirates chapter of Women in Film and Television has partnered with Women’s Voices Now to put on a three-day short film festival called “Women’s Voices from the Muslim World.”  The festival was on this week in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  The line-up includes films from the UAE, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the U.S., Turkey, China and Iran, and screenings are followed by panels with several of the filmmakers whose shorts are screening.  For more information on WIFT UAE, check out the website here.