Saturday, September 22, 2012


Viscera is a visionary not-for-profit based in Los Angeles. Founded by Shannon Lark in 2007, its mission is to expand opportunities for female genre filmmakers and artists. Its range of activities is mind-boggling. I think it’s globally unique, and it provides an extraordinary model for other women to follow. There are the festivals: Viscera, which specialises in short horror films by women, Etheria, a fantasy and science fiction festival, and Full Throttle, for action films. And once Viscera selects a film for its own festivals, it works with partner festivals and events that film screened all over the world. It has teamed up with Hannah Forman to provide Women in Horror Recognition Month (every February). Viscera also offers educational programmes and critiques to people who submit films. And recently Viscera announced the Mistresses of Horror Alliance (MOHA), a membership-based service within which Viscera provides merchandise, networking, education, workshops, and an annual filmmaking grant to one MOHA filmmaker. The Viscera website is jam-packed with information, but I was delighted to check a few more details with Shannon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Niam Itani (2) At Venice, & After

Niam in Venice
Niam Itani was the only woman filmmaker among the finalists in YouTube's Your Film Festival competition, and joined the other finalists at this year's Venice Film Festival, to pitch the idea which could win her $500,000 to make a feature film. When I interviewed her before she went to Venice, she promised to write about her Venice experience, and she has: here you are. Niam didn't win, but she had a great time! And is now busy working on her feature.

What kind of programme did the organisers arrange for you all? From the YouTube clip, it looked busy!
The program was busy before pitching day, I’d say it was well balanced to make sure we don’t get exhausted but still enjoy each other’s company and have our own time. We went on a sightseeing tour of Venice, which was an excellent idea. We also had several group dinners and cocktail receptions. These were great for networking and bonding. Then there was the pitching day, where pitching was our only task, and screening day which also included a reception.

You were nervous about pitching the project you created especially for the competition. How did the pitch go? Who did you pitch to?
The pitch was perfect, thanks to excessive rehearsals with my friend and one of the producing partners on my next feature film who joined me on the trip. We made sure to cover all aspects of the project while pitching (narrative, commercial, marketing, virality, etc…). When I pitched to Scott Free, Google, YouTube, and Michael Fassbender’s production company, they all said it was excellent and barely had any questions. I was happy because this was my best time pitching too!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

European Women Directors: Two Records in One Week?

In Europe, it's a roller coaster year for women filmmakers. There were no women-directed features in competition at Cannes earlier in the year, but recently lots of women's films in every programme at Venice. And two announcements last week further illustrate the unpredictability of European responses to women-directed features. The state-funded Swedish Film Institute (SFI) announced its latest feature film funding decisions and four of the seven films have women directors. That's 57%, and maybe a world record? But in the second announcement, of forty-seven feature films recommended for a nomination in the  European Film Awards 2012, women's representation is very low: they directed only four, a tiny 8.5%. According to the awards website, "with 31 countries represented, from A(ustria) to U(nited Kingdom), the list once again illustrates the great diversity in European cinema." Can it do that, with so few women-directed films represented?  Is this minimal selection of women's work some kind of record too?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

NZFC Fresh Shorts Announcement

Riwia Brown
The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) has just announced its 2012 funding decisions for its Fresh Shorts programme, with grants to 16 new short films. Its press release outlines the selection process and includes some panel comments highlighting the strengths of each film selected (in italics after each film). There are five projects with women directors. Warm congratulations to them and the others in their teams! Where I could easily find extra information about the directors whose projects are green lit, I've added it. Very happy to learn more about the others!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Start From Your Own Heart – The Wisdom of Dana Rotberg in 16 Elegant Tweets

Dana Rotberg
I wanted to go to the Christchurch Writers Festival this weekend, where there's an extraordinary line-up. And I wanted to go to the Big Screen Symposium in Auckland, where there's also an extraordinary line-up. But no, spring's here and I'm focused on the garden and other projects.

But imagine my delight when I saw filmmaker Amit Tripuraneni (@unkreative)'s tweets from writer/ director Dana Rotberg's session Getting to the Heart of the Story, at the Big Screen Symposium-- What an unexpected treat-- I can't remember when I've read a tweet stream that captures the essence of a talk so elegantly. And that essence is so beautiful-- Many thanks, Amit - I wanted to retweet all of these but putting them here seemed a better idea. And many thanks, Dana. I don't know either of you, but together you made my morning!