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Entries in Women In Film (11)

Wednesday
Sep192018

'Little Woods' Outlaw Heroine Tessa Thompson puts Spotlight on Sisterhood at Urbanworld Film Festival

During a recent girl's night I attended, someone sparked a discussion about actors who are so compelling that they are the main reason you will go see a movie in theaters. Tessa Thompson (Sorry to Bother You,Thor: Ragnarok, Westworld, Creed) is among those actresses for me.

Sitting in the film still for Little Woods, her image stopped me dead in my tracks as I scrolled through the 22nd Annual Urbanworld Film Festival schedule this week. I'm glad it did because I would have surely overlooked this western movie about a woman on parole for smuggling medicine to residents in a rural North Dakota town.

When I think of westerns, I picture an old movie from the 70s with cowboys, barndoors and pistols. That is where my mind goes despite knowing good and well there's more to the genre. Adding a modern take on the typical western movie, Little Woods is the directorial debut of Nia DaCosta, a New York native who developed the film for 2 years; starting at the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab.

DaCosta set out to humanize the conversations surrounding healthcare and women's reproductive rights -- topics she says have been overly politicized -- in hopes that her film will serve as a vehicle for understanding among audiences. In Little Woods, two estranged sisters living in poverty work outside of the law to improve their circumstances. Tessa Thompson plays Ollie, a woman who has abandoned her former ways of drug trafficking and helping struggling residents of the oil fracking boomtown in North Dakota sneak across the Canadian border for life or death medical procedures.

English actress Lily James (Baby Driver, Cinderella, Downtown Abbey) plays Deb, Ollie's sister who shows up in crises with a young child and an unexpected pregnancy. Facing foreclosure on the home inheritied from her adopted mother, Ollie must make extreme decisions about whether she will return to her old way of life, risking prison to help keep a roof over her family's head.  

One of the most fascinating things about making movies is how much you learn about the world, or some aspect thereof, as a byproduct of the film. DaCosta deliberately set her film in a fictional town based on Willinston, North Dakota -- where men out number women 2 to 1. Through research, interviews and visits to Willinston, she found out that the town is one of the hardest places to get an abortion, among other needs. The Little Woods director became inspired to tell a story about women in rural America and the hardships they experience regarding access to healthcare.

Upon further reading about this movie, I am reminded about DaCosta's point of there being differences between women's experiences right here in the U.S. and these hardships are rarely part of the public discourse. I would add that its partly because few people outside of rural areas know about the difficulties women endure in rural America, or that the towns even exist.

Before clicking on Tessa Thompson's Little Woods photo, I don't think I've ever heard of Willinston, North Dakota. Reading about Thompson's visit to the town -- where locals told her about the violence, women carrying guns just to be able to shop at Walmart safely, and the bleak state of affairs because the jobs are just not there anymore -- gave me a better appreciation for films like Little Woods; and the bonds created between women on and off-camera to shed light on an aspect of the human experience that audiences typically don't see on the big screen.

Thursday
Aug022018

Meet Horror Film Director Samantha K. Tan

Originally from Massachusets, Samantha K. Tan is a Philly-based videographer, video editor and photographer. As a student in the FMA program at Temple University, she aspires to gain more experience in videography, post-production and sound design. She enjoys voice acting in her spare time as well as producing independent films.

Her experimental horror film My Bedroom, is an Official Selection of the 2018 Short Film Slam, presented by The Madlab Post, where it competed in Round I. My Bedroom is currently nominated for the Wild Card Award. The winning film will be announced in the Final Round this Fall 2018.

Tan's most recent projects include the short films Kakuri and Turntable, both which she worked on as Assistant Director and Assistant Producer. Directed by Kaila Shields, Kakuri is about a man who struggles with the loss of his lover, trying to hold onto his memory of her without losing himself. Turntable, directed Jake Noecker, focuses on the effects of deception in dating. An innocent night turns into one they won't forget.

Assistant Director/Producer Samantha K. Tan with her crew on the set of 'Turntable,' a short film about dating. Tan is also the Head of Production (aka Show Runner) for Ambitious, a mature coming of age web series created by Jenna Lam.  

Ambitious focuses on a hard-headed drop-out who must deal with consequences when her attitude and selfish actions bite her back.

 

As Samantha K. Tan's short film projects make their way from script to screen -- Kakuri was recently released -- and Ambitious continues to develop through pre-production, she is also interested in filming public events, weddings and other social gatherings.

Thursday
Nov022017

3 Reasons Women in Film Must Take Part in the Open Night of Competition at Franky Bradley's this Weekend 

Is your Film best served with roasted Nordic Cod over risotto with melted leeks & lump crabmeat, finished with a lobster bordelaise at Franky Bradley's?Filmmakers are invited to show their films made for, by or about women, during a special night of competition Friday, November 3rd at Franky Bradley's restaurant in Philadelphia.

Films with a running time of 10 minutes or less will be selected (and screened) at random from those in attendance. It's like an open-mic night but for filmmakers, which sounds like fun. When I found out about the competition, I thought of the one-minute romantic comedy flick I wrote and directed a while ago.

It would be perfect for this event, except for the fact that I accidently sat on the DVD and the sole remaining copy of that short film is only compatible for mobile devices. For everyone else -- the producers, directors and actresses out there who have a film that is still intact and will play well in front of attendees at Franky Bradley's this weekend -- your chance to win the competition remains.

The winner will be featured in the upcoming Women's Film Festival (in March 2018). While that is the main reason to participate in this open night of competition, here are additional benefits that filmmakers may gain by taking part in this event:

(l-r): Robin McDonald and Blaire Baron star in the comedy film 'The Candidate,' an official selection at the 2017 Women's Film Festival screening series, presented in partnership with qFLIX.Participating Filmmakers Face Less Competition 

On average, The Women's Film Festival receives several hundred submissions each year, from filmmakers hoping their work gets accepted to screen in one of the programs. Bringing your film this Friday means you may only have to compete with whoever shows up that evening.

So, local filmmakers have a better shot at solidifying a place for their work in the 2018 Women's Film Festival program. The chance to get accepted into any festival without having to put your film through the selection process -- an anxiety-inducing waiting game that could take up to a few months to complete -- is one worth taking.

Proceeds from a Cash Bar Benefit the Women's Film Festival

Aside from after-parties, the festival hosts a Filmmaker's Brunch that provides opportunities for filmmakers in attendance to network and get new projects off of the ground. Fundraisers such as the one at Franky Bradley's on Friday help offset the costs involved in putting these events on. You might be surprised at what great things can happen while chatting about film over food and cocktails. The festival itself was born out of a conversation between two women at a restaurant, so there's that to consider.

(l-r): Mela Hudson and Tori Hall star in the road trip film 'Split Costs,' an official selection in the 2017 Women's Film Festival screening series.Filmmakers Can Leverage their Franky Bradley's Screening and Make It Count

Are you're in the post-production stage? Use this special night of competition as an opportunity to test the latest version of your film in front of an audience.

Even if you don't win a spot to screen your film at the Women's Film Festival in 2018, the feedback alone can be worth your participation in the lottery-style event at Franky Bradley's. Did you recently finish the final sound mix, color correction, etc. on a short that is now ready for its close-up? Use the open night of competition as an opportunity to host a cast & crew screening of your film.

The Women's Film Festival presents "Who's Got Short Shorts?" -- a program of short films selected randomly from those in attendance on Friday, November 3, 2017 at Franky Bradley's 1320 Chancellor Street in Philly. Show runs 6pm-9pm. Films must be submitted on a flash drive in .mov or .mp4 formats.

What are YOUR plans for this Friday night?