Sunday, June 24, 2012

Desiree Gezentsvey, Yael Gezenstvey & 'Nuclear Family' (podcast)

Desiree and Yael
When Her Film's Kyna Morgan visits Wellington next month, we're going to a very special opening night, for Desiree Gezentsvey's play Nuclear Family, 'a comedic drama set in green New Zealand on the eve of the Chernobyl disaster, following a colourful bunch of Venezuelan and Soviet Jewish immigrants as they are forced to question whether freedom and control over one’s destiny are only illusions'. Desiree, based in Wellington, wrote the play for her daughter Yael, who will play all twelve parts. Nuclear Family premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, went on to London and to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has had excellent reviews. It also won Desiree the Best Stageplay Award (Script) at the 2011 Moondance International Film Festival Competition. And now it's coming home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cannes & Women Directors (3) - Zia Mandviwalla

Zia Mandviwalla at work
Four thousand five hundred short films were submitted to the Short Film Competition at Cannes this year. Ten were selected. Women wrote and directed three, and New Zealander Zia Mandviwalla’s Night Shift was one of these.

Zia was born in Mumbai. She's a Zoroastrian–a small religious and ethnic group who went to India to escape the Islamic invasion of Persia several hundred years ago–and came to New Zealand in 1996, at the age of 18, via Dubai. She went to university here, and then reached filmmaking following a scriptwriting course. Night Shift is Zia’s fourth short film, following Eating Sausage (2004), Clean Linen (2006) and Amadi (2010).

Zia’s represented New Zealand at the Berlinale Talent Campus and at the prestigious Accelerator program at the Melbourne International Film Festival. And in 2008, she spent four months in India working alongside Nandita Das on her directorial debut, the award-winning, multi-lingual feature film Firaaq. Zia has received many awards including New Zealand’s New Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2009. She also makes commercials, and has been represented by Curious Film in Australia and New Zealand since 2010.

Because women directors’ participation in the Cannes Film Festival is so controversial, my initial questions for Zia focused on Night Shift and her experience with Cannes. I hoped that, as with my podcast with Destri Martino, Zia’s story might help demystify Cannes. But when she emailed her responses from Denmark, and we Skyped during her visit to Berlin, I expanded the interview a little.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cannes & Women Directors (2) – Destri Martino (podcast)


Ever wondered what the Cannes Film Festival is like for the women directors who get there? Destri Martino, based in Los Angeles, was one of them this year, when her animation The Director screened at the American Pavilion. I love her UNGLAM CANNES blog, which she calls ‘A place to track my growing list of neuroses as I prepare to attend the 2012 Cannes Film Festival’ and where she’s still adding useful info from her experience.

Destri’s typical of many very hardworking and serious women filmmakers in the second decade of the 21st century. She’s highly educated (USC, UCLA, London School of Economics) and highly experienced—in commercial, music video and film production teams in a variety of roles, from p.a. to production manager. She’s been exposed to an array of directing styles and aesthetics from the likes of the late Phil Joanou, Mika Kaurismaki, Mike Nichols and Michael Bay and has also worked for the prolific John Wells Productions, makers of programmes like ER and West Wing.

Destri currently writes and directs the award-winning webseries Mixed Blooms, a ‘fresh-cut comedy’, distributed on YouTube and BlipTV, partially funded—of course!—through Kickstarter. She’s very active in social media. And in her day job—feeding her filmmaking in more ways than one—she produces marketing, recruiting and training videos in-house for law firm Sheppard Mullin. In this podcast, Destri talks about The Director, her Cannes experience, Mixed Blooms, and her practice. She is now scripting a horror feature.

Download podcast
Please note: the link was fine and then it broke and now it's fine again. If you have a problem, you can always access the podcast through the Wellywood Woman Wellington Access Radio link, over there in the sidebar.

Destri's website
Destri Martino filmmaker on Facebook
Destri on Twitter
Mixed Blooms on Twitter
Mixed Blooms on Facebook
UNGLAM CANNES

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Side by Side: To Siberia, With Love

Solidarity with Russian LGBTI seeking human rights, Berlin, in February
It's a beautiful day here in Wellington, New Zealand. Yesterday I saw Madeline Olnek's Co-Dependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same at the Out Takes Film Festival, before the launch of Lawrence Patchett's wonderful I Got His Blood On Me at Unity Books. At lunch time, I'll be back at the Paramount to see Erin Greenwell's My Best Day. And then I'll spend the afternoon in the Teju Cole masterclass at the International Institute of Modern Letters (yep! *huge* privilege). As Jill Livestre said last week, in her podcast on Out Takes: 'We're everywhere and we go everywhere'.

Discrimination against women storytellers and against single mothers inspires most of my activism, and I tend to take my comfortable place on the LGBTI spectrum for granted. But this morning's emails brought a disturbing press release from Manny de Guerre at the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, currently in Novosibirsk. I acknowledge that I have become complacent, and am spurred to action. Here's the press release in its entirety.