Cinema Femme’s mission is to break down walls for female and non-binary emerging filmmakers and redesign the institutions we find ourselves in. We do this through our online film festival, mentorship program, online magazine and live workshops. “Breaking Down Walls” was inspired by the inspirational interview with Oscar-winning production designer Hannah Beachler.
Cinema Femme started as a magazine for women writers to discuss the films they love. That’s where I started, as a film lover and a writer. A component of the magazine at that time was including one interview with a female or non-binary filmmaker per issue. By issue three, emerging female and non-binary filmmakers were gravitating to these interviews, and using them as a source of education and inspiration for their work. I wanted to make it possible for these filmmakers to connect with the people we had interviewed.
That is why the Breaking Down Walls Mentorship Program and the Cinema Femme Short Film Festival began in August 2020. We were so fortunate to partner with Seed&Spark for our first virtual fest. They connected us with filmmakers like Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”, “Yellowjackets”), who have continued to be a great support to us. Female and non-binary filmmakers from all over the world submitted their work, and four filmmakers were awarded a mentorship. We continued our next two editions in 2021 as mini-fests, which we called showcases, where two emerging filmmakers were awarded a mentorship. For our festival coming up, four filmmakers will be awarded a mentorship.
What we’re seeing now is the power of mentorship through our programs. Our recipients of the mentorship program have gone on to doing great things. Gabriela Ortega, the recipient of the 2020 mentorship with “Papi,” has been a part of some exciting programs, for example Lena Waithe’s Rising Voices that featured their shorts through the Tribeca 2021 festival. Her short film “Huella” screened at Sundance this year. Another rising mentee, Jessica Liu, recipient of the February 2021 Mentorship program with “Prom Time!”, surpassed her crowdfunding goal this year with her Seed&Spark campaign for the anthology “Through the Blinds” co-directed with some amazing women. They partnered with the Alliance of Women Directors for this campaign.
We are so excited for our festival kicking off at the end of this month April 28 – May 1st. For this festival edition, we are happy to have Christine Swanson (“The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel”), Jennifer Reeder (“Knives and Skin”), Annette Davey (“Waitress”, “Pam & Tommy”, “Maid”), and Lisa Robinson (“The NXIVM Cult”) as our mentors. They will each select a filmmaker to be their mentee for the 6-month program.
For the first time, Cinema Femme is offering filmmaker workshops led by co-hosts of the podcast Breaking Out of Breaking In, Christina Rai and Bri Castellini, and The Light Leaks‘ Kim Hoyos and Dani Espinosa. Topics include dealing with Imposter Syndrome and learning tools for Online Branding. Another first will be the Opening Night Party following our Premiere Screening of Short Block 1 and Q&A. There will be karaoke, games, and drinks, all done in a festive virtual space on the Filmocracy platform.
We are honoring the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins who tragically died in October because of egregious mismanagement on a film set. She was the DP on a short film we will screen in her honor, titled “Labor”. The short is directed by past mentors and Cinema Femme interviewees Cecilia Albertini and filmmaker Patricia Vidal Delgado (“La Leyena Negra”), the latter of whom was camera assistant to Halyna. We will be screening the short “Labor” and having a Q&A with Cecilia and Patricia to talk about their experience working with Halyna. We will also be awarding a producer of one of the selected films with the Halyna Hutchins Producer Award, nominated by the directors of each selected film. The winner will be announced May 1st.
Passes are now on sale starting at $8 – $40. The $40 All-Access Pass gets you into all the screenings and events. We will be screening 23 short films through 5 short blocks. We will also be having a tribute Q&A with Liz Cardenas, Producer of “7 Days” which just won a Spirit Award for Best First Feature Film. She also has produced “Never Goin’ Back” and “A Ghost Story”, and many others.
Learn more about the fest at cinemafemme.com/shortfilmfest.