…[the gender imbalance in directing is] a bit like a country not being filmed – and that country not having a voice. It really does matter.
– Lynne Ramsay, Scottish film director, writer, producer, cinematographer
The 16th annual LUNAFEST: a Film Festival By, For, About Women premiered on September 29th and returned to last year’s venue, the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. The LUNAFEST East Bay Committee members attended in near full strength, including our newest member. This year, 180 cities – up from over 175 last year – will host the national traveling film festival and raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund and their local community nonprofit organizations.
Whereas last year the films were longer and therefore only six films were shown, this year nine shorter films premiered, with the shortest clocking in at four minutes and six of them being under 10 minutes long. Another interesting fact is that while three of the filmmakers are international – Belgium, Jordan, and Scotland – the rest are based in Los Angeles, with the exception of one in San Francisco.
Kit Crawford, strategic advisor to LUNAFEST, opened the evening with a welcome. Crawford, along with her husband Gary Erickson, is owner and co-chief visionary officer of Clif Bar & Company. Fan favorite Jeanne Rizzo, RN, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, gave a brief but powerful talk, especially timely for this upcoming election. “We have the right to know and the ability to act,” she entreated. “Level the playing field, model to be transparent.” Rizzo encouraged the full house to “take some action tomorrow about voting.” Furthermore, she said, “Be conscious about this particular time. Have a deep sense of inquiry. Be conscious and vote.” Amen.
To whet your appetite and have something to look forward to, here’s a brief summary of all nine films.
Free to Laugh (8 minutes) by director Lara Everly of Los Angeles is “a documentary that explores the power of comedy after prison.” The film has been screened at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Niñera (13 minutes) by director Diane Weipert of San Francisco is “a story that looks at the bitter irony many nannies face: raising the children of strangers for a living while their own children are virtually left to raise themselves.” LUNAFEST is Niñera‘s first film festival.
“Through love, loss, and determination, the definition of family is rewritten” in the film Family Tale (8 minutes) by Dr. Patricia Beckmann-Wells. Family Tale has been screened at Animafest Zagreb, Green Bay Film Festival, Inspired Faith Film Festival, Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival, and Tricky Women Film Festival.
“Ten years after breaking all ties with her father, a daughter sets out to find his grave – and redemption” in The Third Dad (10 minutes) by director Theresa Moerman Ib of Glasgow, Scotland. The film has been screened at Belo Horizonte Short International Film Festival, DocuWest Documentary Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, and Shortcutz Amsterdam.
“Professional and life partners must confront how intertwined their lives have become” in the film Partners (6 minutes) by director Joey Ally of Los Angeles. Partners has been screened at the Aspen Shortsfest, Frameline Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Outfest, and Sundance Film Festival.
“After a fight with her boyfriend in the street, a woman escapes into a hair salon in Brussels” in the film Nkosi Coiffure (15 minutes) by director Frederike Migom of Brussels, Belgium. Nkosi Coiffure has been screened at the Brussels Short Film Festival, Filmfest DC, Flickerfest, Tribeca Film Festival, and Raindance.
In Join the Club (5 minutes) by director Eva Vives of Los Angeles, “a writer’s dilemma of whether or not to join a networking club unfolds during one therapy session.” The film has been screened at the Atlanta Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Palm Springs International Shortest, and the Sundance Film Festival.
“A 17-year-old girl meditates on how her refugee camp has opened up new horizons and given her a sense of courage that she lacked in Syria” in Another Kind of Girl (9 minutes) by director Khaldiya Jibawa of Jordan. Jibawa was the only director who couldn’t make the premier because she wasn’t allowed to leave the camp.
And finally, “members of a synchronized swim team for seniors describe the freedom of the water” in the film The Honeys and the Bears by director Veena Rao of Brooklyn. The film has been screened at DocuWest Documentary Film Festival, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Indy Film Festival, Long Beach International Film Festival, and the Lower East Side Film Festival.
The LUNAFEST East Bay screening is Saturday, March 18th, 7:30pm, at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater, 540 Ashbury Avenue, El Cerrito. Mark your calendars. I’ll be posting profiles of the filmmakers in future blog posts and providing more details about our great event. Stay tuned!