Her.Stories: Women filmmakers in Abu Dhabi, Fact sheet on women in the U.S. film industry, Ava DuVernay, Little Miss Jihad and more

Women Filmmakers Perfect Roles in Abu Dhabi
at Gulf News

Women’s Leadership Fact Sheet: A Project of Women Leaders Count
“Women in the U.S. Film Industry” (Fall 2012 Report by the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media)
Download the PDF report

Digital Hollywood Women highlight ‘What Women Want’
at Examiner.com

Ava DuVernay: A New Director, After Changing Course
Listen/read/watch at NPR

Seven Islands International Film Festival in Chennai; focuses on women in 2012*
at India Education Diary
*Good news!  My friend Stephanie Law’s short film, Little Miss Jihad (previously featured as a HF.Spotlight), has been invited to screen at Seven Islands! Congrats, Steph!

AWFJ To Present Special Awards To Women Directors At Cinema St. Louis SLIFF 2012
at We Are Movie Geeks

Women still a minority in film, figures show (in Canada)
at the CBC

Rehovot film festival to focus on women and religion
at Haaretz

‘Mrs. Judo’ Featured in U.N. Association Film Festival
at The Rafu Shimpo

Who will follow Rama Burshtein to the Oscars?
at Haaretz

Naples International Film Festival to host “Women Calling the Shots” panel on November 3
at the NIFF

The UK Jewish Film Festival: The Women To Watch Out For
at Female First

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SPOTLIGHT: Little Miss Jihad

Little Miss Jihad is a narrative short film written by Toronto-based writer and filmmaker, Stephanie Law.  Inspired by her experiences dealing with the September 11, 2001 attacks, she has nurtured and developed this project for many years.  This spring, she and filmmaker Jessica Wu moved into production and directed this film, and are currently in post-production. Stephanie is a vibrant and passionate filmmaker who has crafted an insightful and important film; she was a finalist at the 2011 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival’s ‘So You Think You Can Pitch?’ competition.  Stephanie and her dedicated and talented team are currently raising funds for the film.

Stephanie Law (writer/producer/director)

Find a lot more information below, and please help spread the word about Little Miss Jihad!

Check the links at the bottom to connect with Stephanie and help support this important film.

Courtesy of S. Law

Teaser trailer:

 

Crowdfunding through: LMJ website (currently in post-production stage)

Campaign goal: $6,000 (currently 46% funded)

Campaign ends: August 2012

Logline

When 10-year-old, Afghani-American, Sally Khan, discovers that the father she never knew disappeared on September 11, 2001, she becomes convinced that he is a terrorist.  Now if she could only figure out what that means!

Production still. Jasmine Chan as “Sally Khan.” (Courtesy of S. Law)

Synopsis

LITTLE MISS JIHAD is a dark comedy, yes, comedy, about faith, tolerance, and a child’s imagination running away with her.

After her shocking declaration, Sally is not prepared for the backlash that follows.  I mean, who knew wanting to be a terrorist… would make people so mad?  Sally’s Aunt grounds her, leaving Sally cut off from her usual, reliable source of intel: Wikipedia.  So Sally enlists her best friend, Daniel, to help her prove that her Dad was a terrorist; it’s the only logical explanation why he hasn’t tried contacting her.  He obviously went into hiding.  So convinced of her belief, Sally ignores the impact of her Jihad for the truth on her paranoid community, friends, and family.   Nothing is going to get in her way, and if it does, she’ll just blow it up!  Kidding.  Sorta.  Sally has figured it out, and by becoming a terrorist too, her Dad has to come back for her.  But when mysterious men in black suits appear in her neighbourhood, Sally becomes even more convinced that she’s hit the truth…  She was so right! 

But then… where is her Dad?

Production still. Martin Lindquist, Lisa Robinson, Davis Ryan. (Courtesy of S. Law)

On the LMJ website, director Stephanie Law shares how this film came to be, and says:

“It comes out of my own memories of 9/11—where I was when we found out about the attacks (having our school photos taken)—and that clear loss of innocence.”

Read about the history of this film here

Production still. Melanie Leon as “Farah Khan.” (Courtesy of S. Law)

Production still. Rahim Hajee as “Agent Finch.” (Courtesy of S. Law)

Credits

Stephanie Law (Writer/Producer/Director)
Jessica Wu (Producer/Director)
Adam Crosby (Director of Photography)

(Complete crew credits are available on the LMJ website.)

Connect with this filmmaker and learn more about this new film:

Facebook: /LittleMissJihad

Twitter: @LittleMissJihad

Website:  LittleMissJihadFilm.com
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Do you have a film you are trying to finance that you would like to feature here?  Send us an email with a website and social media page(s) for your film.

Interview: Stephanie Law, screenwriter

We’re kicking off a “rapid-fire” interview series this week with Stephanie Law, a young screenwriter whom I met while at the Summer Institute of Film and Television of the Canadian Screen Training Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in spring of 2009.  Sadly, SIFT/CSTC has since closed down due to major funding problems in a very tough Canadian economy.

Stephanie was taking a writing workshop while I took a producing workshop.  I think we both agree that SIFT was an amazing program that allowed us to learn so much from the working professionals in film and television who taught the workshops.  It was also a great opportunity to meet interesting people in film/TV taking the workshops alongside us!  It had a prestige all its own and many connections with, and support from, renowned filmmakers and show runners.  The late filmmaker, Anthony Minghella, in particular, was an early and active champion of SIFT and also taught on the program.

Stephanie Law was kind enough to do this interview via facebook email!

On to the interview…

BIO: Stephanie Law is a Toronto-based newbie screenwriter, ex-serial intern, eternal optimist/ cynic, and recent participant in the CFTPA’s National Mentorship Program. You can find her rants on her mini-blog ImagineStories, or even more mini rants on Twitter @sphinxmagic.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian film and TV today?

A: Not good! The English feature film business in Canada (Quebec is a whole other ball game) is tough. The process is slow (there are no big studios, just independent producers that tap into funds, tax credits), and when you factor in all those years spent developing a film—keeping into account that it may never be made—the writer makes very little, and certainly for the majority, not enough to live on. Hence, the day job! In addition, films need a great first weekend to keep their theatrical run alive. If nobody goes to see it, it’s gone (until the DVD comes out). One of the big problems for finding an audience is publicity and marketing—big American films spend millions (sometimes even more than the production budget of the film itself)—but in Canada, we just don’t have the money.

The TV industry is complicated, and I have less experience with it. I will defer to veteran TV writer Denis McGrath’s excellent blog Deadthingsonsticks.

Another great resource for all things industry and writing-related is the amazing Ink Canada (on Facebook) [and Twitter], an online writing community led by screenwriter Karen Walton.

Q: What is the single best thing, and the single worst thing, of being a screenwriter?

A: The best and worst thing of being a screenwriter is one in the same: you. You depend on you. It can be marvellous and freeing because all you need to do your craft is your brain, a piece of paper, and a pencil. Okay, screenwriting software helps. But it can also be frightening and anxiety-inducing because you have to the discipline to push yourself, to face yourself, your doubts, your fears. If you don’t write, it’s on you.

Q: If you could decide your own fate as a writer, what would your career trajectory look like?

A: Muhahaha… I would love to end up on the staff of a TV show before I hit 30. Ambitious, yeah. At the height of my career, I’d love to be co-run a series—but that necessitates finding the perfect creative partner (because it would be that much more fun). I haven’t found that person yet, but just you wait, we will rule the world! I also have a soft spot for features, but short of going to the U.S., I don’t see much of a future here for the big budget stuff I write (hey, I grew up on Disney and blockbusters).

Q: What films, TV shows, webseries inspire you (the good, bad and the ugly) and why?

A: Stories with heart inspire me. Not that I don’t love technical and plot-driven stories– but if they don’t have characters that I care about, then forget it. I end up feeling hollow even after surrounded by the latest, greatest special effects, or whatever. It’s like watching a product, or feeling the plastic around the box. Yuck. Pixar is great at transcending the blockbuster status and money-making of their animated films, because at the heart of it, they care about story and collaboration. I’d bet my money on those two things anytime.

Q: Why will you make it as a screenwriter?

A: In all honesty, you have to believe you will succeed beyond all reason and logic. Because the smart thing to do would be to get a full-time, 9 to 5 day job with benefits and job stability. But I am a stubborn person. If I set my mind to it, I won’t stop until I figure out the solution, or figure out that it’s beyond me. For instance, when I was in high school, I wasn’t the best at math, but I spent hours trying to solve sometimes just one problem (be it physics or calculus), trying to understand. Sometimes I just didn’t have the knowledge or the skills yet to solve the problem (maybe the advanced material was to be covered in the next unit), but I kept at it. And because of that, I did well. That’s the stubborn perseverance that I hope will allow me to succeed and become a professional screenwriter.

Oh, I still hate math.

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Many thanks to Stephanie for doing this interview!

-Kyna (Her Film creator)