‘Women According to Men’ explores our shared humanity

Author: Zainab Zeb Khan 

Author, Zainab Khan moderating Q&A with director Saeed Nouri at the Iranian 30th Annual Festival of Films from Iran

Iranian women’s rights have been a prime example of why personal stories are integral to understanding history. On March 1st, the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) participated as a sponsor of the US premiere of the groundbreaking documentary “Women According to Men” by critically acclaimed director Saeed Nouri at the Gene Siskel Film Center’s 30th Annual of Festival of Films from Iran. The screening marked the kick off of Women’s History Month and highlighted the closing of the film festival which, for three decades, has endured as a showcase that has brought the innovation, resilience, and humanism of one of the world’s great national cinemas to Chicago at the 48-year-old art house cinema in Chicago’s Loop. With films like “Women According to Men”, now more than ever, the voices of Iranian artists need to be heard in exploring our shared humanity through history, compassion, comedy, and love.

The film depicts destroyed footage as far back as 1934. Through meticulously crafted footage of archived Iranian cinema, we learn that under the Shah, efforts were made to modernize the system and bring it more in line with norms shared among most western nations. 

The reforms were championed by women’s groups and media across the globe. At the 11th hour of the Shah’s governance, these efforts were finally rewarded with results, as the Royal National Assembly passed the new “Family Protection Act,” which sought to enforce equality between men and women in matters pertaining to family life and divorce.

The new law was condemned harshly by the incoming theocracy. Ayatollah Khomeini, the future founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressed his outrage from exile: “The socalled family protection law, passed by representatives of foreign interests running the country, is null and void… Divorcees under this law, are married women who will be adulteress if they remarry… Children who are products of such marriage will be considered born out of wedlock, and will have no share of their parents’ estate.”

It is clearly apparent that the condemnation does not extend to men, because under the current regime, men can practice polygamy and hence a man subsequently remarrying after divorce under this law is not a social or religious issue-only if you are not a woman.

The Ayatollah would soon have his revenge. With the collapse of the relatively secular royalist rule in early 1979 and official establishment of theocracy in Iran, known as “leadership by the clergy,” as their system would later be called, one of the first orders of business was to roll back the freedoms women’s right activists had earned. An early sign of what was to come was the enforcement of dress codes for women in public.

Only weeks after the establishment of the new system on March 7, 1979, a large protest by women against compulsory hijab was subjected to brutal crackdown by the notorious Komités (or committees, as the new armed units in charge of enforcement of Islamic law were called). And this was just a taste for more to come.

“Women According to Men” directed by Saeed Nouri

The laws that took effect in Iran subsequently, whether pertaining directly to the family or not, were an embodiment of systemic sexism enshrined in a version of Islamist Sharia: from reducing legal marriage age for girls to 9, to “modesty patrols” terrorizing the streets by arresting women on trumped up charges of showing “too much” hair, to putting compensation for injuring or killing women at half of men in traffic accidents as well as boys getting twice as much inheritance as girls, to giving automatic custody to fathers in divorce cases, to a woman’s legal testimony being worth half a man’s.

There are also certain jobs that women have been barred from having altogether, such as judgeships (and of course, leadership of the state), because those positions are reserved for Muslim clergy, and women cannot become clergy. 

The message was and still remains clear: women are not as worthy as men.

The more recent years have seen Iranian women nonviolently fighting back against discrimination, as well as the reactionary regime’s responding with brute force. Through MALA’s storytelling project, the Iranian American diaspora includes stories of some of the most prominent women across sectors of medicine, arts, technology, and entrepreneurship- all roles that have made them able to strive and thrive once leaving Iran. 

Just as we saw women protesting mandatory hijab by taking their headscarves off and waving them on sticks of wood, we have seen imprisonment, not just of “perpetrators” of such “lawlessness,” but lawyers representing them: the most notorious case being that of Nasrin Sotoudeh, the lawyer representing “Revolution Street Girls,” a group of women representing women protesting compulsory dress for women, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for “actions against national security”.

Those of us in the developed nations who have the means and the freedom to amplify the voices of Sotoudeh and women like her, have a moral responsibility to do so. 

We have lived long enough with the repulsive rule “one law for women under theocratic dominance and another for the rest of the world,” and we cannot stay quiet any longer, because at this point, silence is complicity. The world wouldn’t stay quiet if women in Europe or North America were treated like this, and it shouldn’t stay quite when it happens to women in the Middle East, North Africa and East and Southeast Asia.

We applaud Saeed Nouri for his bravery and ambition in creating this wonderful, powerful, and brilliant work of art and history combined in an aesthetically profound film. As the world celebrates women for Women’s History Month in March, MALA’s community is doing the same – while also demanding a safer, more equitable society for women everywhere. 

About the Author

Zainab Zeb Khan

Zainab Zeb Khan is Chair and Cofounder of the Muslim American Leadership Alliance. Born in the US to Pakistani-Afghan immigrants, she became an activist after eye-opening experiences counseling survivors of domestic violence and organizing exhibitions for artists facing repression. A former Senior Clinician holding a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Zainab also co-curated the International Museum of Women’s exhibition “Muslimah: Muslim Women’s Arts and Voices”and has served as a United Nations Delegate on the Commission on the Status of Women since 2013. Most recently, she contributed a chapter to the bookCan Art Aid in Resolving Conflicts (Amsterdam: FRAME Publishers, 2018). Zainab has been published in the Oral History Review on Muslim American oral histories, and also serves as an Advisory Impact Board of Director for Picture Motion. 

Argentinian filmmaker Valeria Vallejos talks about her empowering short ‘Me También’

Valeria Vallejos is a talented filmmaker of Indigenous and Spanish descent, born and raised in Patagonia. She left her country for Paris at the age of 17 to pursue her career in film. After a brief study experience in Paris, Valeria went on to travel the world extensively, continuing her education in the arts and collecting an MBA along the way. Vallejos wrote, directed and starred in her debut short film Me También (in English, Me Too).

Me También is set in of Los Angeles and revolves around two women from strikingly different worlds. Cristina (played by the director herself) is an undocumented Mexican immigrant, running from her past and trying to live out her personal American Dream as a nanny to a wealthy family. Monica (Kathryn  Romine) is a rising executive in a prestigious marketing firm. At some point, both of their lives will be derailed by the same hardship and by the abuses of the same person, Mr. Reynolds (Regen Wilson).

We had the chance to interview Vallejos and talk about the making of her film. You can watch the entire 17-minute short here: https://youtu.be/O2JCh7iWZbU 

Valeria Vallejos

DAVIDE ABBATESCIANNI: How did the idea for this short come about?

VALERIA VALLEJOS: I’ve always wanted to tell stories about who I am, a woman, an immigrant and a person of color. I had been formulating the story of two women struggling with hardships in their lives, but the real spark that I needed to start the writing process for Me También was Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the 2018 Golden Globes. Here, the main goal was to tell my truth, a truth to which every woman can relate to.

ABBATESCIANNI: What message is your short willing to convey within the wider #MeToo debate?

VALLEJOS: Definitely, it is a message of hope. The last scene of the short is the message I really wanted the audience to take away. Despite everything that Cristina and Monica had been through, they found hope in standing up for one another. I think that what just happened with Harvey Weinstein feels like the continuation of what I wanted the audience to read into the open ending.

ABBATESCIANNI: How did you work on Regen Wilson’s role on set?

Valeria Vallejos and Regen Wilson on-set

VALLEJOS: Regen is a particularly experienced actor. He was extremely prepared, we didn’t have the resources to rehearse or even have a table read, so the performances developed very organically. He came to the set full of ideas and his contribution was crucial to bring Mr. Reynolds’ character to life. And, most importantly, he never judged his role, despite being so drastically different from him.

ABBATESCIANNI: Why did you also decide to star in the film? Did you want to make your message even more personal?

VALLEJOS: My intention, starting from the inception of the project and all the way through the writing process, was to act in the film. This was definitely a very personal project and I never hesitated to be in front of the camera. Being behind the camera was a decision that came later, after a male director that I approached wanted to alter the tone and the voice of the film and tried to push me out of my own project. That’s when I realized that the film I’d envisioned was going to be directed by myself.

ABBATESCIANNI: How would you judge the current state of equality in your country of origin’s film industry? How are things changing?

VALLEJOS: That’s a tough question to answer! I love my country, but I recognize that there is still a major lack of diversity in the Argentinian film industry. I have indigenous blood, from the native tribe of Mapuche, and I still don’t see anyone who looks like me in film or on television there. I left my country when I was 17, so I can’t really say if things are changing or not but I dream of being part of that change.

On-set Me También

ABBATESCIANNI: How did your crew contribute to bringing your artistic vision to life?

VALLEJOS: I don’t think I’d have made this film without them. As a first-time director, Me También was in many ways my film school. My director of photography Jorel O’Dell was a great collaborator, who earned the Best Cinematography award at Los Angeles’ DTLA Film Festival, along with the master of the invisible art – my editor Brett M. Reed – and my fabulous composer, Nuno Malo. We made a great team and I hope to work with them again in the future.

ABBATESCIANNI: What initiatives do you think may be successful to implement equality and give more exposure to women in film?

VALLEJOS: The simplest and most impactful initiative is to just give opportunities to female filmmakers. To believe in their talent and their stories. The sensibility, intuition and strength that a woman can bring to a project is invaluable. 

ABBATESCIANNI: What women filmmakers from the present and the past do you find inspiring?

VALLEJOS: Definitely Ava DuVernay, especially because of how brave and determined she was to change the trajectory of her career from publicist to storyteller and with such an original voice. Then, Kathryn Bigelow for sure, because of the types of complex stories she chooses to tell and her impeccable taste. Finally, Mira Nair, for her passion for storytelling and for doing it with such little support and resources. Her wisdom and love for filmmaking really inspire me.  

ABBATESCIANNI: Are there any new projects you’re working on? What kind of themes would you like to explore in your next endeavors?

VALLEJOS: I’ve just finished writing the script for a feature-length film, entitled It Was Written. It is about the journey of a Latin teenager, who escapes his abusive home life and finds the truth about his past and love along the way, through his poetry. It’s a very compelling story with twists and turns and I anticipate that will take your breath away. I’m kind of obsessed with it and can’t wait to bring it to life. I’m also developing a pilot for a limited series, called Lady J. It revolves around a woman struggling with infertility and her dark and unexpected metamorphosis.

Berlinale: Uisenma Borchu • Director of ‘Black Milk’

Director-writer-actress Uisenma Borchu’s second film, Black Milk [+], played in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlin Film Festival. Born in Mongolia in 1984, Borchu came to the German Democratic Republic aged four. She studied Documentary Film and Television at the Munich University of Television and Film from 2006-2015. Cineuropa sat down with her in Berlin to talk about Black Milk.

“To me, everything that is black is something that you don’t see; you don’t recognise it”

by  Kaleem AftabCineuropa

Uisenma Borchu

Cineuropa: What was the seed for Black Milk?

Uisenma Borchu: I was intrigued by one picture I had of my cousin, Gunsmaa Tsogzol, who plays Ossi, where she was standing in the Gobi Desert. And I always asked myself: “Why do I always think about her?” And another question was, “What would I be doing right now if I hadn’t left Mongolia when I was four or five years old?” My mother used to say: “If we hadn’t left the country, you would have been a nomad girl.”

How did leaving affect you?

It was hard being a little child and leaving all of these things behind me, and I believe that we all carry some traces of our experiences around with us. Add to this the feeling of also being very neglected by the Germans in the GDR, and the neo-Nazis who would stand in front of our houses and demonstrate against us. You know, it made me really aware of what I was.

What year did you move to Germany?

I moved to East Germany just before all the upheaval in 1988 and the fall of the Wall. My mother studied in the GDR in the 1970s. She always shifted between the socialist countries, Mongolia and the GDR. And so she started the whole thing. I am, of course, very thankful for this, as I enjoyed being educated in Germany, even though it was a very hard and harsh time at the beginning of the 1990s. It was kind of sad, too.

Can you explain the symbolism of black milk?

Yes, black milk is this idea of empowerment, I guess. To me, everything that is black is something that you don’t see; you don’t recognise it. You think it’s obviously white, the milk that comes out of the breast, but actually, the power you don’t recognise as a man, or especially yourself, as a woman, is something deep in there. For me, it’s black. That’s why I wasn’t reasoning while writing the script – it was just flowing out of my imagination, from my heart.

The image of Mongolia we see is full of earthy colours and concentrates on the everyday. Why this aesthetic?

I wanted to get away from this typical romanticised image, and I wanted to shoot as rough as possible and to be as realistic as possible. I wanted to be direct and intimate with the nomads, and for me, that means just showing them and how they really live. So I didn’t want to have any distance between them and us, and they would feel so very familiar to my crew and me. And that’s why I decided to be very earthy. (The article continues below – Commercial information)

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Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival director Grainne Humphreys shares her view of European women in film

Grainne Humphreys has been the director of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival (VMDIFF) since 2007. Under her direction, the prestigious Irish film event has significantly expanded its scope. We had the chance to interview Grainne and talk though the programme of this year’s edition, the topics of diversity and gender equality, the work of women directors and other interesting perspectives on the Irish and European film scenes. 

DAVIDE ABBATESCIANNI: So, how did you kick off your career in the festival industry? What did you do before leading VMDIFF? 

GRAINNE HUMPHREYS: I started my programming career when I was attending University College Dublin. I was programming the Film Society and then I went on to get a Masters in Film Studies. Having volunteered at many festivals, I started my career working with young audiences with the Junior Dublin Film Festival in 1994, an organization with a single employee. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn all aspects of my work such as programming, fundraising, sponsorship, marketing, publicity and audience development.

I also started a side-line in rights clearance working on a number of documentaries, which gave me a wonderful grounding on researching and finding films. In 1995, I joined the Irish Film Institute as Education Officer. That role included developing the curriculum for secondary schools across Ireland and developing new teaching materials for both students and teachers. An interest in programming adult education led to expanding my role and include special seasons and focuses on the work of figures such as Andy Warhol, Agnes Varda and Harold Pinter.

I wanted to engage with contemporary cinema and showcase the work of new directors in Dublin, thus I founded and programmed both the Stranger than Fiction Documentary Festival and the Dublin French Film Festival from 2002 to 2007. Among other projects, I co-edited Ireland into Film, a series of publications on a number of key Irish films. I travel extensively and visit approximately 16-18 festivals a year, which allows me to keep track of international cinema. Moreover, I have served as a jury member on a number of film festivals including Sydney, Vilnius and Les Arcs and have coordinated a number of Irish film seasons at international events. 

ABBATESCIANNI: How would you describe the festival and its mission to our American readers?

HUMPHREYS: DIFF is a ‘best of fest’ audience event. We want to bring the best of world cinema to Dublin. It was set up in 2003 and was relaunched from an event which had been around since the late 1980s and organized by a film critic who loved both arthouse and popular cinema. The festival has continued to keep a very broad remit from both independent cinema to studio productions. We have fantastic audiences of 20,000-22,000 each year, curious and engaged, and who are very knowledgeable about world cinema. We screen approximately 110 films, in four city centre venues and six other venues around the country, with an emphasis on contemporary world cinema.

The programme includes new work from both established and emerging auteurs. The main showcase is amplified by small strands on silent cinema, young people, retrospective titles and shorts. We invite approximately 60 guests from around the world; many are filmmakers but we also invite journalists, programmers and distributors. Usually, the event takes place at the start of the year and 20% of its programme platforms new Irish work. Irish cinema exhibition is very conservative and there has been a marked drop in foreign language titles and independent cinema in recent years, which is why the festival tries to address this absence.

We have a small industry strand but we try to present world class masterclasses like those with Pawel Pawiliowski and Charlie Kaufman this year. We have had a wonderful line-up of guests including Al Pacino, Julie Andrews, Daniel Day-Lewis, Mike Leigh, Martin Sheen, Kristin Scott Thomas, Quentin Tarantino, Mark Wahlberg, Tilda Swinton and Glenn Close. We have also expanded our programme to try and bring younger audiences to the cinema and our Documentary Competition which leads a number of new competitions which has injected a level of engagement for Irish filmmakers. As an industry, there is incredible momentum and some really superb world class talents whose work is recognized globally. There is a really strong generation of producers, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, editors, composers and actors.

ABBATESCIANNI: You started working for VMDIFF back in 2007. How has the festival changed over the last 13 years? Is there anything you miss?

HUMPHREYS: Since 2007 the festival has grown in scale and scope. We have increased the industry strand and added workshops and masterclasses, an awards structure, competitions, a young people’s section, the silent cinema element, a much more structured submissions policy and an international outreach partnership. I work with two full-time staff members; this small team allows great flexibility and a real engagement with Irish cinema. In terms of what I miss – I miss 35mm – I miss the old fashioned projectionists and the stability of screening on film rather than downloads… but such is progress. 

ABBATESCIANNI: How do you think is the Irish industry – and, more generally, the European one – performing in terms of gender equality and representation of diversity?

HUMPHREYS: I think that on both a local and a European level, there have been significant advances. As a festival who has struggled to see and include a more diverse range of work, it has been far easier. From the range of work on show at festivals, the promotion of sales agents and the films officially submitted to DIFF, it has been easier. The next body of work, though, is with audience development and education. Screen Ireland has led the promotion of a more diverse cinema in the country but this policy needs to be backed up by the education system and the national film bodies. Another area which needs increased support is film, media and general arts press. There is a widening gap between the press coverage for mainstream and non-mainstream cinema and there is a limited and conservative window for foreign language filmmakers within our media landscape. Ireland is still very dominated by English language culture and this is a battle which is still fiercely fought. 

ABBATESCIANNI: I totally agree, especially with your thoughts about arts press. Besides, how do you think is performing the festival scene?

HUMPHREYS: The festival scene in Ireland is scattershot and somewhat unbalanced, the three main festivals (Dublin, Galway and Cork) have strong independent programming and clear separate identities, but there is also a need to build networks for exhibition of independent and smaller films. Festivals are increasingly important as launchpads for new work which do struggle to find venues outside of a couple of sites. A number of smaller genre or niche festivals exist – for example, GAZE, Horrothon and the Dublin Feminist Film Festival – but they all struggle on small budgets and have limited resources. Many of these festivals, including the French Film Festival, are run by larger organisations such as the IFI.

Last year, the BBC launched a poll listing the top 100 films directed by woman filmmakers. What about your picks? You can mention just a few, of course! 

HUMPHREYS: I have a list of films – which is the list of films I would pick today… but will probably be different tomorrow! “Vagabond” by Agnes Varda, “Grace of My Heart” by Allison Anders, “Orlando” by Sally Potter, “Blue Steel” by Kathryn Bigelow, “The Love Witch” by Anne Biller, “Nora” by Pat Murphy and “The Piano” by Jane Campion. I was lucky enough to get to know Agnes Varda when I programmed a season of her work in Dublin in 2002 and we stayed friends. I was struck by her passion and curiosity and how she kept working – shorts, features, tributes, writing, talking – filming was like breathing for her and she always had time to talk to younger filmmakers – quite an inspiration!

ABBATESCIANNI: What women filmmakers’ work is worth watching today?

HUMPHREYS: Alice Winocour, Sally Potter, Alice Rohrwacher, Joanna Hogg, Lulu Wang, Mati Diop, Emma Tammi, Olivia Wilde, Emerald Fennell, Neasa Hardiman, Claire Oakley, Rose Glass, Christine Molloy… These are just some of the people whose films excite me. 

ABBATESCIANNI: From your experience, what good practices would you suggest for a festival or a film event aiming at becoming more inclusive? 

HUMPHREYS: I would look at four key groups who need to be involved. First, looking at your team – broadening the range of inputs by full-time or part-time or consultant programmers. Secondly, I would look at the filmmakers whose work you screen and check your submissions policies, your festival schedules and your contacts lists. Thirdly, I would challenge your audience and try to develop them through round year activities and look at ways of expanding the reach of your programme. Finally, I would see how you might help your film critics and general media to create greater access and understanding of the more niche aspects of the film line-up. 

ABBATESCIANNI: Amidst the ongoing climate change, how is VMDIFF dealing with its environmental impact? Did you put any specific plans into action?

HUMPHREYS: We do have a number of initiatives for both the organization and the festival. We have tried to increase our recycling and move towards paperless with regard to both tickets and reducing our publications. One area which is of concern is traveling to international festivals. Ireland is an island and so I fly every time I leave the country. I also believe that you should see films on screen as opposed to links so it really is a conflicted situation for me. 

ABBATESCIANNI: Finally, one more question. How do you see the future of VMDIFF? What are your long-term goals?

HUMPHREYS: I would like to keep the breadth of the programme in place – from new experimental work to studio films, but I think it’s a tricky balance to maintain… However, my most fervent wish would be to continue providing ways of championing cinema in all its weird and wonderful incarnations. Ireland has quite limited cinema distribution and non-existent foreign language films on television, so we are a vital intervention. We would love to develop satellite screenings, a focus on VR, the feature film competition, and expand our young people’s programme. I love the programme of Lyon’s Lumiere Festival and I think we also need to remember the cinema and filmmakers of the past, which is why our retrospective strands are so important.

Kitty Green’s film ‘The Assistant’ reveals the faces of the #MeToo movement and the pains behind them

The tweets. The movement. The conversation. Kitty Green’s film “The Assistant” takes the #MeToo movement, and the conversation around it, to a place where it began. Julia Garner plays Jane, an assistant to a producer of a major production company in New York. The environment is eerily too familiar, and the name Harvey Weinstein floats through our heads as Jane’s life revolves around her work for this man. We see a day of her work through various tasks, which include picking up a woman’s earring left on the floor of his office, spraying down the “casting couch” of any fluids, and escorting a girl to a hotel that has also been hired as an “assistant”.

We see the pains behind the #MeToo era through Jane’s eyes. Kitty Green wants you to feel uncomfortable throughout her film, and is contributing to the conversation of the hashtag that’s been waking us up, finally. The hope is that the boy’s club mentality will cease to exist and that Kitty’s film will reflect a culture that is behind us, as opposed to one that is extremely relevant to our current climate.

Now Streaming.

Kitty Green, director of The Assistant, an official selection of the Spotlight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

REBECCA MARTIN: I was fascinated by the female dynamic. Like in most male dominated industries, the women need to be stronger and better, it seems, to get ahead. Also, in the past, before #MeToo, there seemed to be a lack of morale between women. It felt more like, ‘every woman for themselves.’ I saw that kind of dynamic in this film. Can you comment on that?

KITTY GREEN: Yeah, that’s tough. I think that the environment that we’ve depicted is very gendered, so anyone who had gotten into any position of power, they had to fight tooth and nail to get there. Oftentimes that process is dehumanizing enough that you end up losing a little bit of yourself in that. So I wanted to display the way that they all have different ways of coping with the behavior that they consent, or that they see is wrong. Whether that’s looking away, or making a joke about it, or rolling their eyes, or brushing it off, just finding a way of not having to directly talk about it. All of those dynamics are interesting to me. I didn’t want to make a film that was like, men are bad, and women are good, it’s more gray in their-

MARTIN: -complexities.

GREEN: Yes. It’s very complex, that situation. 

Director Kitty Green and actor Julia Garner attend the Premiere of The Assistant by Kitty Green, an official selection of the Spotlight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. © 2020 Sundance Institute | photo by Lauren Wester.

MARTIN: What was your intentions in your editing process to support the film?

GREEN: The editing went quickly. We shot the film in eighteen days, and we didn’t have a heap of material to use. The editing process was more about trimming and lengthening things, to see how things played out. We had a few test screenings with audiences. My co-editor and I would examine when people got a little restless, when people were getting a little bored, and we’d trim based on their reactions. It’s a normal process in that you see how it plays, and you tweak it.

MARTIN: I really liked the flow, how you follow Jane, and her many tasks throughout the day. The editing flow got me involved with the drama, and almost created a suspense with how things played out.

GREEN: Thank you. The sound also affects the editing. It plays differently, so you just have to keep tweaking until it feels right. By the end we were like, “We think it’s working.”

Julia Garner appears in The Assistant by Kitty Green, an official selection of the Spotlight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

MARTIN: Knowing your past work, it seems that you are very female focused, and have covered fascinating characters. I’m curious what brought you to this specific project.

GREEN: I’m drawn to stories about women, the exploitation of women specifically. These are themes I’m always attracted to, and I can’t exactly explain why. But I always start with the issue first, and then I figure out the form it will take. With all of those projects, it was just something that I was interested in. I’m always interested in approaching an issue in a different way. It broadens it out and then we can have conversations about systemic and culture concerns. 

MARTIN: That’s so important, thank you. My audience is emerging female filmmakers, so what advice would you have for those who are just starting out?

GREEN: It’s a lot of hard work. You just have to really want it and do the work. These days you can do things online or put things up for your friends to see. Getting a lot of feedback is the first step. When I was just starting out, I took my camera, moved to the Ukraine, and shot a feature-length documentary without anyone helping me or supporting me. So I’m very much for just going out there and doing it. Find something that is interesting, cool, and just follow it, and see what you can make and create. People respond when they see that kind of work. 

MARTIN: When you’re passionate about the work, it really makes a difference. Are you seeing change in the film industry, since the #MeToo movement started, for female filmmakers getting more opportunities to show their films? Are you hopeful?

GREEN: Yes. I think it’s getting better. It’s slow, and we have a lot of work to do, but I do see my friends getting opportunities that I don’t think they would have gotten a few years ago. I think people are slowly coming around to the idea that women can do it too, which is exciting. For the next group of filmmakers coming up, there will be more work. I do think it’s getting better. But I do think we still need to keep having these conversations. 

MARTIN: Conversations are so good, and that’s why I love your film, because it’s creating and being a part of the conversation. 

GREEN: I hope so, shining a light on how we can improve things. 

Matthew Macfadyen appears in The Assistant by Kitty Green, an official selection of the Spotlight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs.

Know My Work: Sundance 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance 2020 Wrap Up

I’m Olivia Wilde, I’m an actor, director, and activist, and now you know my work.

Gotham and Indie Spirit nominated director Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) debuts her new short film Wake Up at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Pam Powell, film critic and co-host of Reel Talk with Chuck and Pam captures the film’s Q&A with the director, see featured piece on FF2 Media

Sundance Day Six! January 28, 2020

I’m Ashley Shelton, I’m an Actor and Director, and now you know my work.

Ashley Shelton (Magnolia & Clementine) chats with Cinema Femme managing editor Rebecca Martin about her new film “The Evening Hour” that premiered at Sundance on Monday, January 27 2020, she also talks about her upcoming projects, and gives inspiration to womxn in film “celebrating our milestones”. Learn more at cinemafemme.com in the “Know My Work: Sundance Day Six” feature.

I’m Julie Taymor, I’m a filmmaker, and now you know my work.

Julie Taymor’s films include Oedipus Rex (Emmy), starring Jessye Norman; Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins; Frida (Academy Award), starring Salma Hayek; Across the Universe (Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations); The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her theatre includes The Lion King (two Tonys); M. Butterfly, starring Clive Owen; and Grounded, starring Anne Hathaway. Her operas include The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera). She is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. (Sourced from Sundance.org)

Film critic, Carla Renata (The Curvy Film Critic) says in her review about Julie’s film The Glorias that premiered at Sundance 2020 on Sunday, January 26, 2020, and is based on Gloria Steinem’s book My Life On the Road: “True to form Julie Taymor makes her own rules exploring the importance of forging your own path and embracing the challenge of the open road.  An ideology shared by her cinematic counterpart.  At the Q&A, which followed the Sundance World Premiere, Taymor sums it up best. “Feminism is humanism….when I think about the word icon I think about something that is wooden and stoic.  Gloria Steinem is not that. She is the most living being there is.” Read full review here.

I’m Patricia Vidal Delgado, I’m a filmmaker, and now you know my work.

Patricia Vidal Delgado is the writer and director of short films Bué SabiIsaIco88The Hood, and Caroline. Her work has screened at both national and international film festivals—including the Raindance Film Festival, Crown Heights Film Festival, Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival, and IndieLisboa International Film Festival—and it has garnered a total of 8 wins and 27 nominations. La Leyenda Negra is her feature film debut. (Sourced from sundance.org)

Le Leyena Negra premiered at Sundance on Monday, January 27,2020. Rebecca Martin, managing editor of Cinema Femme, says: “Usually when you’re a teenager, the worst thing that can happen to you is an acne breakout or not getting a date to prom, in La Leynda Negra, we see the harsh reality of what our government is doing to immigrants, and taking away the future opportunities just because they weren’t born in the country. Taking place in Compton, the rage of the main character, teenager Aleteia, is warranted, and her character is heartbreaking. This is one of the gems that I discovered at Sundance this year, and hope it’ll get the distribution it deserves. A very powerful film.”

Sundance Day Five! January 27, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.⠀

Interview in full with Managing Editor Rebecca Martin. Following up with her about #KnowMyWork feature.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead (@scentofthedelta). She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from “Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round”)⠀

I’m Izzy, a Video Essayist, and now you know my work.

Fostered from her passion for watching classic cinema “all day every day,” Izzy debuted her first “Be Kind Rewind” video in 2018 and has amassed 116k subscribers since then. Her video series explores the struggles and triumphs of Hollywood’s leading ladies with non-sensationalized narratives that erase tabloid exploitation and reveal how women and other marginalized groups have navigated the entertainment industry. A lot of these women have produced great work here at Sundance. Follow her YouTube series “Be Kind Rewind” and watch her latest: 

I’m Susanne Regina Meures, I’m a Documentary filmmaker, and now you know my work.

Susanne Regina Meures is a German filmmaker who gained attention with her debut film, Raving Iran, which premiered in 2016, has been shown at over 130 film festivals worldwide, won numerous awards, and went on to be a success in the cinemas. Saudi Runaway is her second feature-length documentary. (sourced from Sundance.org)

Cinema Femme editor in chief Rebecca Martin says ” ‘Saudi Runaway’ is a must see, for any woman, or any human being. We see Muna, a strong and independent woman born in a country where she does not get the opportunity of choice without a man by her side. She risks everything for herself and for other Saudi women. She’s blazing trails, it’s inspiring and riveting.” (full review by Rebecca Martin coming soon!)

A still from Saudi Runaway by Susanne Regina Meures, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Sundance Day Four! January 26, 2020

I’m Janicza Bravo, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Janicza Bravo directed “Zola”, the film premiered at Sundance on Friday, January 24th. Film critic and Film Inquiry Editor in Chief Manon de Reeper says: “Bravo was soon announced to replace Franco, and I’m glad. I am glad this story, the experience of a black woman, was translated to the screen by a black female filmmaker. Zola as a character feels genuine; the story has heart, it is funny, it’s definitely crazy, and it portrays Zola and Stefani’s world with empathy.”

Read Manon’s full review here.

I’m Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, I’m a Director, Actor, and Producer, and now you know my work.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is a French director, actress, and producer living in Paris and the U.S.A. Her first two short films, Atlantic Avenue and Rabbit, played at major festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Clermont-Tonnerre developed the latter short into her debut feature, The Mustang, which won the 2015 Sundance Institute/NHK Award. She is currently directing the pilot and two additional episodes of Hulu’s series The Act. (sourced from sundance.org)

“When I started to direct, I didn’t know anything about the techniques. I knew a lot about acting. I knew how to talk to actors and how to collaborate with them because I grew up in a cinephile family. I was very often on set, observing everyone’s work. I have a lot of empathy for actors. They’re so vulnerable and so I always make sure I can create a safe space for them to be able to create. That’s really a priority for me.” Excerpt from our interview with Laure talking about her film “The Mustang”, which led to her Breakthrough Gotham award last year. Contributing writer Pamela Powell conducted the interview. See link

Sundance Day Three! January 25, 2020

I’m Radha Blank, I’m a Director and a Playwright, and now you know my work.

Radha Blank is the director of “The 40-Year Old Version”, produced by Lena Waithe’s production company. In The CherryPicks feature Beandrea July writes: “Stories by women about the inner lives of women in general, and Black women in particular, are required viewing for me. Having actually seen the film ahead of the premiere, I can definitely say this funny, thought-provoking movie has a real shot at signaling a breakout for Blank, who is a true triple-threat.”

Beandrea July recommends “The 40-Year Old Version” and other great films at Sundance 2020, see link.

I’m Kris Rey, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Kris Rey began her film career at Southern Illinois University where she studied documentary film production. Using naturalistic techniques and often working with non-actors, Rey went on to focus her career in narrative film. Her first feature, “It was great, but I was ready to come home” played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009, followed by her next feature, “Empire Builder” (2012) and short film “Baby Mary” (2014). Her third feature “Unexpected” premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Rey lives in Chicago and teaches film production at Northwestern University. She just wrapped her new feature film “I Used To Go Here” starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement premiering at SXSW this year. (Bio pulled from link)

Read more about Kris Rey and her thoughts about pregnancy representation onscreen and her Sundance experience with her film “Unexpected”. See link.

Sundance Day Two! January 24, 2020

I’m Anne Sewitsky, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Anne studied directing at the Norwegian Film School. Her feature-film debut came in 2010 with the comedy “Happy, Happy”, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Cineuropa interviewed Anne about her Sundance film “Sonja: The White Swan” in 2019 and is featured on cinemafemme.com today.

We are proud to announce our media partnership with Cineuropa

I’m Hilda Somarriba, I’m a Publicist, and now you know my work.


Hilda Somarriba graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science and Sociology and started her career as an assistant at MTV Networks before turning her skills to Publicity at PMK/HBH. In 2008, Somarriba created Prism Media Group to work on Marketing and PR for both general & Latin market media. She has represented over 50 films in top International film festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes & Toronto and works with filmmakers, directors & film production companies to create awareness of their projects in the media. Clients included James Wan (creator of Saw & Insidious), Alister Grierson (Sanctum), Lightning Entertainment, Emmett / Furla Films, and supervised the unit publicity on their titles (The Prince, Vice, Freelancers, End of Watch, Broken City, 2 Guns, Lone Survivor). From 2011–2015, she handled the red carpet for TheWrap’s exclusive Pre-Oscar party attended by nominated filmmakers and top Hollywood industry executive and done outreach for foundations to celebrity spokespersons.

Hilda Somarriba is back at Sundance 2020 representing films like LUXOR directed by Zeina Durra and POSSESSOR directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Read more about Hilda featured here.

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Know My Work: Sundance Day Five– January 27, 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance Day Five! January 27, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.⠀

Interview in full with Managing Editor Rebecca Martin. Following up with her about #KnowMyWork feature. Stay tuned for her full interview later this year on cinemafemme.com

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead (@scentofthedelta). She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from “Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round”)⠀

I’m Izzy, a Video Essayist, and now you know my work.

Fostered from her passion for watching classic cinema “all day every day,” Izzy debuted her first “Be Kind Rewind” video in 2018 and has amassed 116k subscribers since then. Her video series explores the struggles and triumphs of Hollywood’s leading ladies with non-sensationalized narratives that erase tabloid exploitation and reveal how women and other marginalized groups have navigated the entertainment industry. A lot of these women have produced great work here at Sundance. Follow her YouTube series “Be Kind Rewind” and watch her latest: 

I’m Susanne Regina Meures, I’m a Documentary filmmaker, and now you know my work.

Susanne Regina Meures is a German filmmaker who gained attention with her debut film, Raving Iran, which premiered in 2016, has been shown at over 130 film festivals worldwide, won numerous awards, and went on to be a success in the cinemas. Saudi Runaway is her second feature-length documentary. (sourced from Sundance.org)

Cinema Femme editor in chief Rebecca Martin says ” ‘Saudi Runaway’ is a must see, for any woman, or any human being. We see Muna, a strong and independent woman born in a country where she does not get the opportunity of choice without a man by her side. She risks everything for herself and for other Saudi women. She’s blazing trails, it’s inspiring and riveting.” (full review by Rebecca Martin coming soon!)

A still from Saudi Runaway by Susanne Regina Meures, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Sundance Day Four! January 26, 2020

I’m Janicza Bravo, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Janicza Bravo directed “Zola”, the film premiered at Sundance on Friday, January 24th. Film critic and Film Inquiry Editor in Chief Manon de Reeper says: “Bravo was soon announced to replace Franco, and I’m glad. I am glad this story, the experience of a black woman, was translated to the screen by a black female filmmaker. Zola as a character feels genuine; the story has heart, it is funny, it’s definitely crazy, and it portrays Zola and Stefani’s world with empathy.”

Read Manon’s full review here.

I’m Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, I’m a Director, Actor, and Producer, and now you know my work.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is a French director, actress, and producer living in Paris and the U.S.A. Her first two short films, Atlantic Avenue and Rabbit, played at major festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Clermont-Tonnerre developed the latter short into her debut feature, The Mustang, which won the 2015 Sundance Institute/NHK Award. She is currently directing the pilot and two additional episodes of Hulu’s series The Act. (sourced from sundance.org)

“When I started to direct, I didn’t know anything about the techniques. I knew a lot about acting. I knew how to talk to actors and how to collaborate with them because I grew up in a cinephile family. I was very often on set, observing everyone’s work. I have a lot of empathy for actors. They’re so vulnerable and so I always make sure I can create a safe space for them to be able to create. That’s really a priority for me.” Excerpt from our interview with Laure talking about her film “The Mustang”, which led to her Breakthrough Gotham award last year. Contributing writer Pamela Powell conducted the interview. See link-

Sundance Day Three! January 25, 2020

I’m Radha Blank, I’m a Director and a Playwright, and now you know my work.

Radha Blank is the director of “The 40-Year Old Version”, produced by Lena Waithe’s production company. In The CherryPicks feature Beandrea July writes: “Stories by women about the inner lives of women in general, and Black women in particular, are required viewing for me. Having actually seen the film ahead of the premiere, I can definitely say this funny, thought-provoking movie has a real shot at signaling a breakout for Blank, who is a true triple-threat.”

Beandrea July recommends “The 40-Year Old Version” and other great films at Sundance 2020, see link.

I’m Kris Rey, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Kris Rey began her film career at Southern Illinois University where she studied documentary film production. Using naturalistic techniques and often working with non-actors, Rey went on to focus her career in narrative film. Her first feature, “It was great, but I was ready to come home” played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009, followed by her next feature, “Empire Builder” (2012) and short film “Baby Mary” (2014). Her third feature “Unexpected” premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Rey lives in Chicago and teaches film production at Northwestern University. She just wrapped her new feature film “I Used To Go Here” starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement premiering at SXSW this year. (Bio pulled from link)

Read more about Kris Rey and her thoughts about pregnancy representation onscreen and her Sundance experience with her film “Unexpected”. See link.

Sundance Day Two! January 24, 2020

I’m Anne Sewitsky, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Anne studied directing at the Norwegian Film School. Her feature-film debut came in 2010 with the comedy “Happy, Happy”, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Cineuropa interviewed Anne about her Sundance film “Sonja: The White Swan” in 2019 and is featured on cinemafemme.com today.

We are proud to announce our media partnership with Cineuropa

I’m Hilda Somarriba, I’m a Publicist, and now you know my work.


Hilda Somarriba graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science and Sociology and started her career as an assistant at MTV Networks before turning her skills to Publicity at PMK/HBH. In 2008, Somarriba created Prism Media Group to work on Marketing and PR for both general & Latin market media. She has represented over 50 films in top International film festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes & Toronto and works with filmmakers, directors & film production companies to create awareness of their projects in the media. Clients included James Wan (creator of Saw & Insidious), Alister Grierson (Sanctum), Lightning Entertainment, Emmett / Furla Films, and supervised the unit publicity on their titles (The Prince, Vice, Freelancers, End of Watch, Broken City, 2 Guns, Lone Survivor). From 2011–2015, she handled the red carpet for TheWrap’s exclusive Pre-Oscar party attended by nominated filmmakers and top Hollywood industry executive and done outreach for foundations to celebrity spokespersons.

Hilda Somarriba is back at Sundance 2020 representing films like LUXOR directed by Zeina Durra and POSSESSOR directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Read more about Hilda featured here.

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Know My Work: Sundance Day Four– January 26, 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance Day Four! January 26, 2020

I’m Janicza Bravo, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Janicza Bravo directed “Zola”, the film premiered at Sundance on Friday, January 24th. Film critic and Film Inquiry Editor in Chief Manon de Reeper says: “Bravo was soon announced to replace Franco, and I’m glad. I am glad this story, the experience of a black woman, was translated to the screen by a black female filmmaker. Zola as a character feels genuine; the story has heart, it is funny, it’s definitely crazy, and it portrays Zola and Stefani’s world with empathy.”

Read Manon’s full review here.

I’m Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, I’m a Director, Actor, and Producer, and now you know my work.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is a French director, actress, and producer living in Paris and the U.S.A. Her first two short films, Atlantic Avenue and Rabbit, played at major festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Clermont-Tonnerre developed the latter short into her debut feature, The Mustang, which won the 2015 Sundance Institute/NHK Award. She is currently directing the pilot and two additional episodes of Hulu’s series The Act. (sourced from sundance.org)

“When I started to direct, I didn’t know anything about the techniques. I knew a lot about acting. I knew how to talk to actors and how to collaborate with them because I grew up in a cinephile family. I was very often on set, observing everyone’s work. I have a lot of empathy for actors. They’re so vulnerable and so I always make sure I can create a safe space for them to be able to create. That’s really a priority for me.” Excerpt from our interview with Laure talking about her film “The Mustang”, which led to her Breakthrough Gotham award last year. Contributing writer Pamela Powell conducted the interview. See link-

Sundance Day Three! January 25, 2020

I’m Radha Blank, I’m a Director and a Playwright, and now you know my work.

Radha Blank is the director of “The 40-Year Old Version”, produced by Lena Waithe’s production company. In The CherryPicks feature Beandrea July writes: “Stories by women about the inner lives of women in general, and Black women in particular, are required viewing for me. Having actually seen the film ahead of the premiere, I can definitely say this funny, thought-provoking movie has a real shot at signaling a breakout for Blank, who is a true triple-threat.”

Beandrea July recommends “The 40-Year Old Version” and other great films at Sundance 2020, see link.

I’m Kris Rey, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Kris Rey began her film career at Southern Illinois University where she studied documentary film production. Using naturalistic techniques and often working with non-actors, Rey went on to focus her career in narrative film. Her first feature, “It was great, but I was ready to come home” played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009, followed by her next feature, “Empire Builder” (2012) and short film “Baby Mary” (2014). Her third feature “Unexpected” premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Rey lives in Chicago and teaches film production at Northwestern University. She just wrapped her new feature film “I Used To Go Here” starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement premiering at SXSW this year. (Bio pulled from link)

Read more about Kris Rey and her thoughts about pregnancy representation onscreen and her Sundance experience with her film “Unexpected”. See link.

Sundance Day Two! January 24, 2020

I’m Anne Sewitsky, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Anne studied directing at the Norwegian Film School. Her feature-film debut came in 2010 with the comedy “Happy, Happy”, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Cineuropa interviewed Anne about her Sundance film “Sonja: The White Swan” in 2019 and is featured on cinemafemme.com today.

We are proud to announce our media partnership with Cineuropa

I’m Hilda Somarriba, I’m a Publicist, and now you know my work.


Hilda Somarriba graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science and Sociology and started her career as an assistant at MTV Networks before turning her skills to Publicity at PMK/HBH. In 2008, Somarriba created Prism Media Group to work on Marketing and PR for both general & Latin market media. She has represented over 50 films in top International film festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes & Toronto and works with filmmakers, directors & film production companies to create awareness of their projects in the media. Clients included James Wan (creator of Saw & Insidious), Alister Grierson (Sanctum), Lightning Entertainment, Emmett / Furla Films, and supervised the unit publicity on their titles (The Prince, Vice, Freelancers, End of Watch, Broken City, 2 Guns, Lone Survivor). From 2011–2015, she handled the red carpet for TheWrap’s exclusive Pre-Oscar party attended by nominated filmmakers and top Hollywood industry executive and done outreach for foundations to celebrity spokespersons.

Hilda Somarriba is back at Sundance 2020 representing films like LUXOR directed by Zeina Durra and POSSESSOR directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Read more about Hilda featured here.

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Know My Work: Sundance Day Three– January 25, 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance Day Three! January 25, 2020

I’m Radha Blank, I’m a Director and a Playwright, and now you know my work.

Radha Blank is the director of “The 40-Year Old Version”, produced by Lena Waithe’s production company. In The CherryPicks feature Beandrea July writes: “Stories by women about the inner lives of women in general, and Black women in particular, are required viewing for me. Having actually seen the film ahead of the premiere, I can definitely say this funny, thought-provoking movie has a real shot at signaling a breakout for Blank, who is a true triple-threat.”

Beandrea July recommends “The 40-Year Old Version” and other great films at Sundance 2020, see link.

I’m Kris Rey, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Kris Rey began her film career at Southern Illinois University where she studied documentary film production. Using naturalistic techniques and often working with non-actors, Rey went on to focus her career in narrative film. Her first feature, “It was great, but I was ready to come home” played in competition at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009, followed by her next feature, “Empire Builder” (2012) and short film “Baby Mary” (2014). Her third feature “Unexpected” premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Rey lives in Chicago and teaches film production at Northwestern University. She just wrapped her new feature film “I Used To Go Here” starring Gillian Jacobs and Jemaine Clement premiering at SXSW this year. (Bio pulled from link)

Read more about Kris Rey and her thoughts about pregnancy representation onscreen and her Sundance experience with her film “Unexpected”. See link.

Sundance Day Two! January 24, 2020

I’m Anne Sewitsky, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Anne studied directing at the Norwegian Film School. Her feature-film debut came in 2010 with the comedy “Happy, Happy”, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Cineuropa interviewed Anne about her Sundance film “Sonja: The White Swan” in 2019 and is featured on cinemafemme.com today.

We are proud to announce our media partnership with Cineuropa

I’m Hilda Somarriba, I’m a Publicist, and now you know my work.


Hilda Somarriba graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science and Sociology and started her career as an assistant at MTV Networks before turning her skills to Publicity at PMK/HBH. In 2008, Somarriba created Prism Media Group to work on Marketing and PR for both general & Latin market media. She has represented over 50 films in top International film festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes & Toronto and works with filmmakers, directors & film production companies to create awareness of their projects in the media. Clients included James Wan (creator of Saw & Insidious), Alister Grierson (Sanctum), Lightning Entertainment, Emmett / Furla Films, and supervised the unit publicity on their titles (The Prince, Vice, Freelancers, End of Watch, Broken City, 2 Guns, Lone Survivor). From 2011–2015, she handled the red carpet for TheWrap’s exclusive Pre-Oscar party attended by nominated filmmakers and top Hollywood industry executive and done outreach for foundations to celebrity spokespersons.

Hilda Somarriba is back at Sundance 2020 representing films like LUXOR directed by Zeina Durra and POSSESSOR directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Read more about Hilda featured here.

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Know My Work: Sundance Day Two– January 24, 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance Day Two! January 24, 2020

I’m Anne Sewitsky, I’m a Director, and now you know my work.

Anne studied directing at the Norwegian Film School. Her feature-film debut came in 2010 with the comedy “Happy, Happy”, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Cineuropa interviewed Anne about her Sundance film “Sonja: The White Swan” in 2019 and is featured on cinemafemme.com.

We are proud to announce our media partnership with Cineuropa

I’m Hilda Somarriba, I’m a Publicist, and now you know my work.


Hilda Somarriba graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science and Sociology and started her career as an assistant at MTV Networks before turning her skills to Publicity at PMK/HBH. In 2008, Somarriba created Prism Media Group to work on Marketing and PR for both general & Latin market media. She has represented over 50 films in top International film festivals: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes & Toronto and works with filmmakers, directors & film production companies to create awareness of their projects in the media. Clients included James Wan (creator of Saw & Insidious), Alister Grierson (Sanctum), Lightning Entertainment, Emmett / Furla Films, and supervised the unit publicity on their titles (The Prince, Vice, Freelancers, End of Watch, Broken City, 2 Guns, Lone Survivor). From 2011–2015, she handled the red carpet for TheWrap’s exclusive Pre-Oscar party attended by nominated filmmakers and top Hollywood industry executive and done outreach for foundations to celebrity spokespersons.

Hilda Somarriba is back at Sundance 2020 representing films like LUXOR directed by Zeina Durra and POSSESSOR directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Read more about Hilda featured here.

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Know My Work: Sundance Day One– January 23, 2020

Cineme Femme is about amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers and those who support them. During the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to our own original interviews, we will be posting excellent content from other media outlets and platforms to make sure you know about the best from around the globe.

Our social media Sundance 2020 campaign is called #KnowMyWork where we feature female filmmakers and womxn in film and their work. All of the featured are connected to Sundance in some way. Follow this post for updates throughout the festival and follow us on our socials (FB, Instagram, Twitter)

These media amplification partnerships are also in alignment with the Sundance Film Festival’s Press Inclusion Initiative which aims to expand access for a more inclusive pool of writers, critics, and publication. 

Sundance Day One! January 23, 2020

I’m Thuc Nguyen, I’m a Screenwriter, and now you know my work.

Thuc Nguyen is currently in Round 2 The Sundance Institute Development Labs with a drama feature with a Vietnamese-American woman lead. She’s also a finalist in the InnovAsian screenwriting contest with a comedy: #MindyWuTranVersusSiliconBeach. (Sourced from Success: Thuc Nguyen Makes Sundance Second Round)

I’m Laura Moss, I’m a Director and Production Designer, and now you know my work.

She was named one of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE’S 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM, an IFP emerging storyteller. Her work has screened at Tribeca, SXSW, Rotterdam, Sundance and Cannes.

She is currently a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting Labs with her first feature screenplay, an all-female modern day redux of the Frankenstein story. (sourced from https://lauramoss.nyc)

To learn more about Laura and her work, read our feature from back in November 2018.

Alice Waddington takes us on a fantastical journey in her female-led feature ‘Paradise Hills’

You know when you are so excited by a director that your excitement oozes? Alice Waddington is that director. Being touched in my life with a fire that takes me out of the “norm” of what is expected as a woman, I can relate to films about women who are outliers, and kicking the shit out of the mold they’re forced into. Waddington’s 2019 film “Paradise Hills” takes you down a beautiful, prickly, dark, and fantastical journey through Uma’s (Emma Roberts) story, who finds herself forced into a sickeningly utopian and Oz-like psych ward. The visuals are stunning, whimsical, and full of fantasy, yet I felt a strange familiarity in this setting.

“Paradise Hills” reminded me of so many films I love, like “The Congress”, “The Stepford Wives” (1974), and “Picnic at Hanging Rock”(1975), yet the film is an utterly original work. It was a pleasure interviewing a director that I’m so excited about, and I appreciate her taking the time to answer my questions. I look forward to seeing Waddington’s future projects, including “Scarlet”, which will be coming to Netflix.

Please note, I conducted the interview prior to the 2020 Oscar nominations.

Milla Jovovich with Alice Waddington on set of “Paradise Hills”

What experiences did you have growing up that led you to filmmaking?

My parents are a psychologist and a teacher from Hispanic families who had one connection in the film industry: a DOP they shared a flat with back in university. My dad hosted a film club, my mom played “Blade Runner” and “A Clockwork Orange” for me when I was about 14. I studied Advertising in the Public University of the Basque Country.

In 2015, while I was working two retail jobs and one advertising gig, I also began designing the visual treatment and first six pieces of conceptual art for “Paradise Hills” with screenwriter Sofía Cuenca. It would become my first feature film, after making one short and a few ads. We took the pitch to Austin’s Fantastic Fest, where we won second best project of the market, plus best directing! It was also there that I met Guillermo del Toro, who introduced me to my manager and agent. They then pitched me to Adrián Guerra and Núria Valls at Sitges, where “Disco Inferno” was in the New Visions section.

“Disco Inferno” trailer

I brought Nacho Vigalondo into the project, whom I had known for seven years. Adrián and Núria suggested Brian DeLeeuw, writer of “Daniel isn’t Real.”

I really wanted to create something addressing the use that my 12- or 13-year-old cousins made of their social networks. I felt that we had put in their hands a window to the world that insisted they would never be beautiful, or popular enough – perfect, really. 

I wanted to tell my cousins that their personal fears and anxieties were valid, how it was adults that had created and fed them… through an entertaining feature.

Were you thinking about “The Stepford Wives” when you created the film? If so, what inspired you to take the ending in a different direction? And– were you intending to homage any other features?

Nicole Kidman in “The Stepford Wives” (2004)

I have only seen 2004’s “The Stepford Wives” once. It was called “The Perfect Women” in Spain! I must have been 15 then, I am 29 now. For that reason, I honestly do not recall it well, just that Nicole did a terrific job… as usual. 

This is something that has happened to me before. “Eyes Wide Shut” is the only Kubrick film I’ve never watched–it makes me sad there aren’t any others of his afterwards–but that’s the film everyone is the most excited to talk about once they leave the screening room after watching our first short, “Disco Inferno”!

Some shows and films that did inspire us a ton were hard sci-fi nods such as “The Prisoner” or “Logan’s Run”… seen through a softer, normatively feminine lens like the one in films like “Princess Bride”, or via the uneasy ode to female friendship in “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. 

“Picnic at Hanging Rock”

How did you go about your casting process? What brought Emma Roberts, Awkwafina, Eiza Gonzaléz, Danielle Macdonald and Milla Jovovich to the project? I liked how Milla portrayed the evil side of her character while also allowing the audience to feel empathy for her. What great casting choices by the way!

“Paradise Hills” cast at Sundance 2019: (L-R) Milla Jovovich, Eiza Gonzaléz, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina and Emma Roberts.

Thank you so much! It was really fascinating to me when Milla mentioned that she understood what the scope of her character was. But it was not until she heard Alberto Valcárcel talk about how she expressed perfection through her wardrobe choices that she fully got the sheer obsessiveness of her. She perfectly got the playful and self-conscious nature of The Duchess, just like that.

Milla Jovovich in “Paradise Hills”

Emma Roberts showed a vulnerable side that I was very thankful for witnessing. I loved her performance in Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto” and hoped to see more of that. And she never did disappoint!

Danielle MacDonald was fresh off of her Sundance success with “Patti Cake$”, but what I had no idea about is how she does these jaw-dropping action scenes and stunts herself–the same ones that can make the crew just applaud?!

Danielle Macdonald and Awkwafina in “Paradise Hills”

Awkwafina is just genuinely naturally gifted for dramatic acting. We filmed while ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was in post production and before ‘The Farewell’, so she was kind of nervous.

Awkwafina in “Paradise Hills”

Yet after seeing her on set, our jaws were on the floor, because until that day we only knew about her capacity for comedy. I hope she wins an Oscar for Lulu’s gorgeous film!

Eiza González brought so many original ideas to expand her role and make her character very memorable. She made lots of choices that expand the complexity of Amarna’s original inner world in the script.

Emma Thompson and Eiza González in “Paradise Hills”

The film is so colorful, it reminded me of “The Congress”– definitely a paradisiac environment! What I loved was the clash of Emma Roberts’ character within that world. How did you create a setting that was so utopian, and why did you choose to have everyone dressed in white?

“The Congress” (2013)

“The Congress” has got some very interesting animated visuals! Regarding Uma’s character, growing up in the 90s and 2000s, I definitely was exposed to a ton of rightfully angry female characters that mostly seemed to inhabit those very animated worlds. I’m talking about leads such as San in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke”; or “Anastasia” in Don Bluth’s titular film, that were very inspiring to me when I was not a teenager yet. 

“Princess Mononoke” (1997)

Emma’s reel included, among others, Yuki from Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and Anna Karina’s Angela in ‘A Woman is a Woman’.

The all-white is an open reference to oppression, and to entirely female mental institutions-especially mid-century ones; in which a lack of conventionalism would be annulled.

Much of the fun came from taking ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’-style characters and scenarios that are sometimes presented as ultimate life goals (eg: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Funny Face”) and then turning them into actual nightmares!

“Breakfast at Tiffanys” (1961)

What’s coming up for you?

I have a new feature in the works— “Scarlet”, a queer historical film produced by Roxie Rodríguez (“Before Midnight”) and Michael Costigan (“Girl, Interrupted”, “Brokeback Mountain”, “Stoker”), written by awesome New Orleans screenwriter Kristen SaBerre (“Code Noir”).

The other show is the TV adaptation of an incredible fantasy book series, that will hopefully be announced soon!

Thank you for your time today–

Watch “Paradise Hills” streaming on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play and Vudu.