This week, two of Women In Film’s signature programs held events that were indicative of what is at the heart of our work. On Monday evening, the 2018 Production Program Fellows had the opportunity to show their completed shorts at an exclusive screening and reception. On Tuesday, our monthly Speaker Series offered a significant opportunity for members of the public to learn about a groundbreaking documentary film and its footprint in LGBTQ+ history.
The Production Program Short Film Showcase, held at WeWork Century City, was the first event of its kind in our organization’s history. The two shorts screened, JUST A DRILL and SIGNAL, are, in the words of Director of Programs Maikiko James, “a testament to the undeniable talent of Women In Film Members, and of women filmmakers everywhere.”
On the growth of this program from the foundation set by our former PSA Program, Manager of Programs Melissa Verdugo said, “The addition of the Line Producer fellowship has been particularly exciting, as it marks Women In Film’s commitment to expand our programs to better support women in physical production roles. We look forward to adding more fellowships to this program for women working in a myriad of behind-the-camera positions.”
Writer/Director Fellow Chloé Hung, of SIGNAL, was joined for a panel after the screening by Producer Fellow Bo Shim and Line Producer Fellow Jes Anderson. Writer/Director Fellow Julianne Donelle, of JUST A DRILL, was joined by Producer Fellow Sabrina Stoll and Line Producer Fellow Megan Jordan. The night was the first opportunity for the production teams to meet and network with each other as they are building their careers. JUST A DRILL will be shown next month at the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival.
The Women In Film Production Program is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, and support from Apache, Cinelease, Becine, Eleven Sound, Alternative Rentals, Quixote, Otto Nemenz, 37 Laines, and Deluxe.
The Women In Film Speaker Series is a monthly panel of industry leaders sharing valuable insights into the art, craft, and business of entertainment, presented in partnership with the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division. Typically these events are free for members with a fee for public attendees, but this month’s event was opened up to be complimentary for anyone wanting to learn more about the documentation of LGBTQ+ history during Pride Month, as the 50th anniversary of the watershed Stonewall riots approaches.
With “Writing Lesbians Into History,” this evening—presented in partnership with Outfest and the International Documentary Association—provided an opportunity to learn about how these female filmmakers spent five years laboring to create the Emmy Award-winning BEFORE STONEWALL, the first documentary of its kind chronicling generations of history about homosexuality in America in the 20th Century.
Moderated by Women In Film Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer, the panel reunited Director Greta Schiller, filmmaker and author Andrea Weiss, author Jewelle Gomez, and author and historian Lillian Faderman. They were joined by ONE Archives Executive Director Jennifer C. Gregg and filmmaker and Women In Film Program Coordinator Whitney Skauge.
What followed was a fascinating look into guerrilla filmmaking in the 1980s, followed by a thoughtful discussion of the legacy of gay life as oral history and physical film have given way to the digital age. Gomez recalled hours spent in the homes of gay women of color to record stories of their lives, that “it was always about creating community.”
“I was really interested in telling the stories of ordinary people,” Schiller said. A stark signifier of how much has changed in a few decades, her Jezebel Productions partner Weiss spoke about searching through archives in the Library of Congress to find any evidence of gay life earlier in the 20th Century. “There was no internet or search terms, of course. There were only card catalogues and categories. They had nothing under ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ or ‘homosexuality,’ so I had to get more inventive with the process. The newsreel clips I found were categorized under ‘oddities’ … or ‘vice squad raids.'”
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