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Carbondale welcomes festival of female flicks

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” What is it really like to be a female in film?

“I know it’s a boy’s club,” said one woman director.

“We need a more balanced point of view,” added another.



“I think it’s like any field,” concluded a third. “It’s hard to be a woman.”

Those are a few of the voices behind LUNAFEST, an all-woman short film festival sponsored by LUNA Bar. While none of those involved sounded angry, their words made it seem quite plain.



This festival is more than entertainment. It’s a necessity.

Quick with facts, festival director Sophia Kaylani pointed out that in 2005, only seven percent of film directors were women. This fundraiser, started back in 2000, is a small way to fight that trend, she said. Between October 2007 and the end of this month, it will have reached 135 locations and 25,000 audience members in the United States and Canada. Most importantly, she said, is that over the years, LUNAFEST has raised more than $150,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund, the event’s partner, and more than $300,000 for other non-profits benefiting women.

But enough numbers. What about the filmmakers themselves?

Of the nine showcased Saturday, here’s a small peek into three.

In Japanese, her film, “Daikon Ashi,” means white radish, a comment on her pale legs.

Kuwahata, 26, laughed as she explained this. She then said just why she loves animation so much.

“You make a drawing and then all of a sudden it’s alive,” she said. “I think it’s quite wonderful you can make anything, and then those creatures are alive.”

Her animated story lasts only a minute and a half and dates back a couple of years, but was still her ticket to LUNAFEST.

That, she said, has made all the difference to her.

“To be able to travel so many places and meet so many people and make them laugh is quite wonderful,” she said, from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

It was a surprise, too, she added, to meet audience members outside the film realm.

“I never knew a film festival could be a community event,” she said.

In her words, it’s brought her to a “bigger world.”

To this 26-year-old animator, a recent graduate of the University of Southern California, the draw of film is simply freedom.

As she put it, “I like being able to start from nothing and know that everything I created, I created from my own head.”

Her awakening to the animation came as an undergraduate at Bennington College in Vermont. Though there was no animation major offered, she taught herself the art anyway.

In “Pockets,” a 3-minute, loosely-drawn piece, she discusses the bond between mother and child. In subsequent works, she’s dealt with everyday issues, things that were common yet, to her, still important.

Right now, that means working on a conceptual film on rice.

“It’s so rare,” she said, to do something where you feel you “can’t break any rules.”

She admitted that creating animation, working alone, can be “tough.” But she doesn’t seem to be backing down any time soon.

“I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell,” she laughed, when asked if she had expected to be part of all this.

At 33, the former professional snowboarder is relatively new to film. Now a scientific film student in Montana, she came to the art out of a yearning for something “important,” she said.

Her five-minute movie, “Breaking Boundaries” tells the story of Sondra VanErt, a professional skier, forced into retirement at 23. Deemed too old for the sport, VanErt simply picked herself up, dusted herself off and went on the compete ” and win ” as a snowboarder.

Grace described the piece between takes of her latest film, which speaks of human’s carbon footprint. Backed by the Smithsonian, the movie will show at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. With all her films, she explained, her points are personal, important ” and not didactic.

“I’m not trying to make a film that preaches,” she said. “I’m trying to make a film that makes people more aware than they were before.”

When she was younger, she said, she had wanted to do just about everything with her life. Strangely, a little while ago, she came across an old journal entry, circa 1998 that foreshadowed her current career.

“Finally, I know it,” it read. “I want to be a scientific filmmaker.”

She hadn’t even remembered writing it, she said.

Yet here she is.

As you may have guessed, the words at the beginning of the article came from these three women, speaking of the hardship they face in this ever-so-male of industries. No one, however, was complaining. No one felt it was hopeless. And they all seemed to think things could change ” especially with events such as this.

More than talking about commercial success, each director seemed focused on just sharing their work, getting their voices out there, seeing people’s reactions.

In Ohara’s words: “I think it might be a women’s thing.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

ssieg@postindependent.com


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