Cinema Femme is the voice of the female film experience, a platform for stories about womxn in film and their allies that aims to inspire change in the industry. Our short film festival is an extension of our mission, and the womxn we feature (cinemafemme.com).
For 2021, we are turning our four-day festival into a bi-monthly (February, April, June, August, October) showcase paired with our Womxn to Womxn in Film Mentorship program. The festival emphasizes the importance of supporting emerging female and non-binary filmmakers by connecting them to seasoned industry members. The goal is for talented emerging female and non-binary filmmakers to have long-lasting, successful careers.
Included with the festival are our panel discussions about important and relevant topics in the industry. Q&As and panels in our inaugural 2020 festival were led by Karyn Kusama, Chaz Ebert, Alice Waddington, Lara Gallagher and Nora Poggi. topics included the black female filmmaker panel and creative distribution.
The festival emphasizes the importance of supporting emerging female and non-binary filmmakers by connecting them to seasoned industry members through our 6-month Womxn to Womxn in Film Mentorship Program. The goal is for talented emerging female and non-binary filmmakers to have long-lasting, successful careers. The filmmaker behind one of the five selected films for that month’s showcase will be awarded a 6-month mentorship with a seasoned womxn in film in the industry.
Mentors for 2020 were Deborah Kampmeier (“TAPE”, “Hounddog”, “Queen Sugar”), Haroula Rose (“Once Upon a River”, “As They Slept”), Laura Moss (“Fry Day”), and Patricia Vidal Delgado (“La Leyenda Negra”).
If you missed submitting for February showcase, we are now accepting submissions for April’s showcase
February Showcase Introduction
As 2020 brought us many challenges in how we share stories, digital platforms and online discussions brought us all closer. Cinema Femme is the voice of the female film experience, a mission that is exemplified by our February 2021 showcase. Womxn all over the world want to tell their stories, and female filmmakers who bring these stories to the screen should be shared!
For our February showcase, we have selected five films for our main competition. A six-month mentorship will be awarded to the winning film’s filmmaker with Emmy-winning editor and filmmaker Kate Hackett (“Cheer”, “Half the Picture”, “Oleander”)
Our five selected films are directed by womxn that tell their stories in a cinematic way. “Cloud Gazing” has us look at the ordinary and see if transform into the extraordinary. In a similar beat, “A Morning, A Mother & A Boy” follows the routine morning of a mother and her four-year-old son. “Monkey Bars” is a raw coming of age story that features “Hereditary” star, Milly Shapiro. “Prom Time!” is a fun film about a mother who finds herself transported to her youth in a trippy way on the day of her daughters’ prom night. And we end our short-block showcase with “Letter to My Mother,” which tells an essential story of a trans woman dealing with their childhood trauma.
And finally, our selected spotlight film from Gambia “MÉBÉT”, is a shattering film that shines a light on girls being forced into marriage at a young age. The film is based on a story written by Jama Jack and based on the experiences of a real woman who was forced to marry as a young girl. A panel will pair with the film moderated by director Oluwaseun Babalola (SOJU).
Cloud Gazing (USA) – directed by Dianne Diep
After her umpteenth move in NYC, a woman and her best friend embark on a journey through imagination to a place of child-like wonder.
A Morning, A Mother & A Boy (Denmark) – directed by Katrine Weber
An everyday drama portraying one morning in the life of a mother and her 4 year old son. We follow the mother and child through all the morning routines while the boy tries to stretch out time to avoid going to kindergarten. But there is no way out. The separation between the two is inevitable as it is for most parents and children in Denmark every day. The film is a slice of life and a (self-)portrait about motherhood and its dilemmas that many parents will recognise from their own lives.
Monkey Bars (USA)- directed by Jacqueline Xerri
When fourteen-year-old Maggie and her two best friends hang out with older guys they meet on Facebook, a crush on a complicated boy unravels into a twisted trance fueled by Four Lokos and naive infatuation.
Prom Time! (USA) – directed by Jessica Liu
Upon overhearing her teen daughters recount their dating experiences while getting ready on prom night, Judy accidentally drugs herself with Chinese herbal medicine spiraling her into a gaudy sexual fantasy with the class hunk.
Letter to My Mother (Iran/Germany) – directed by Amin Maher
A heartfelt letter to tell the mother the most painful of secrets. Amina, who in 2002 was the small protagonist of “Ten” by Kiarostami is now a transgender director who tries to make her voice heard, understood, and be understood.
Main Competition Q&A with selected filmmakers moderated by Patricia Vidal Delgado
Patricia Vidal Delgado is the writer and director of short films ‘Bué Sabi’, ‘Isa’, ‘Ico’, ’88’, ‘The Hood’ and ‘Caroline’. Her work has screened at both national and international film festivals including the Raindance Film Festival, Philadelphia Film Festival, Curtas Vila do Conde International Short Film Festival and the IndieLisboa International Film Festival. Delgado’s films have garnered a total of 11 wins and 40 nominations. ‘La Leyenda Negra’, her feature film debut, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in the NEXT category and is currently streaming on HBO MAX. As of March 2020, Patricia is a Sundance Institute Film Two Fellow and is represented by the talent agency Luber Roklin.
SPECIAL EVENT – SCREENING OF “MÉBÉT” LIVE Q&A with team
14 year old Njillan, one of the top students in her class, has just been awarded a government scholarship to pursue her secondary education. Excited to share this achievement with
her family, she is welcomed with bad news: Her father has given her away in marriage to Sengan, despite the protests from her mother.
Njillan is forced to let go of her dreams and fulfil her marital duties. She falls pregnant and faces complications while giving birth to her son, Modi. She doesn’t survive. Modi grows up and
is initiated into manhood by his grandfather, Njillan’s father. Now a man, he has the opportunity to carry forward the culture of child marriage or reverse the trends and protect his future daughters. He has an encounter with the spirit of his mother, telling her story and pleading him to break the cycle.
MÉBÉT tells the story of one girl’s attempt to turn the tragedies of the past into lessons for the future. It is a conversation across generations to deliver positive change. The film showcases
aspects of West-African culture to counter the negative narratives about the continent, and portray the reality of our journeys through stories of resilience and hope.
MÉBÉT Q&A moderated by Oluwaseun Babalola
Oluwaseun Babalola is a Sierra Leonean-Nigerian New Yorker, director, and producer. She created the company DO Global Productions to pursue her passions for Black/African content and directed “SòOJU”, an award-winning documentary series celebrating the diversity of youth culture in Africa. The series was filmed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Botswana, and Spain.
She has worked as producer for CNN, HBO, CNBC, PBS and The Africa Channel, and co-produced the feature documentaries, “Trichster” and “Picture A Scientist”, a Tribeca Film Festival selection. Outside of film and television, her photography was featured in the shadomag photo exhibition of female photographers, I Am A Woman: Global Womxnhood, exhibited in London, 2020.
Oluwaseun travels with her films, speaking at institutions and universities about the importance of documentary as cultural preservation. She has initiatives to support capacity building in creative industries in Africa, which has placed her as a cohort of Global Startup Ecosystems’ Africa Digital Accelerator and the inaugural Creative Producer Indaba Residency, hosted by EAVE, Realness Institute, IFFR Pro and Sundance Institute.
Currently she is developing her first feature as director, a narrative/documentary-hybrid about gender parity in Nigeria.
HOW TO FEST
How do I watch the films?
Visit our festival platform xerb.tv/channel/cinemafemme/virtual-events
Click on register for Competition Short Block (“Cloud Gazing”, “A Morning, A Mother & A Boy”, “Monkey Bars”, “Prom Time!”, “Letter to My Mother”) or “Mebet” screening, or fest pass that will get you in to both virtual events. Set up an account, pay by CC or PayPal, and you’re set! Tickets go on sale 1/29/21.
How much does it cost to stream?
$20 to watch Competition Short Block, $10 to watch “Mebet”, and $25 to buy a pass for both.
When are the films available?
Films are available to screen on the platform from February 1 – 28, 2021. Note that you can only view the films during the month of February.
How do we watch LIVE events, and where?
Our website (cinemafemme.com) will be streaming LIVE through our YouTube channel. Pre-recorded LIVE events will be included on our platform page. LIVE events are free.
February 2021 Mentor
Kate Hackett – February 2021 Film Festival Showcase Mentor
Kate Hackett is an Emmy winning editor, known for her editing work on the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary series “Cheer” and “Last Chance U”.
She has also edited multiple feature films, including the Sundance premiere “Half The Picture”, which investigated systemic discrimination in the film industry by interviewing notable directors including Ava DuVernay, Penelope Spheeris and Gina Prince-Bythewood. She was the 2018 Sundance Institute Sally Menke Editing Fellow.
As a director, her art films for large-scale concerts have been exhibited nationally and internationally. These projects include the multimedia concert “Portals”, featuring violinist Tim Fain, which was the premiere of Philip Glass’s “Partita For Solo Violin”.
Her short film “Oleander”, which she wrote and directed, stars Emily Robinson (“Transparent”), Peri Gilpin (“Frasier”) and Jennifer Lafleur (“Room 104”). It premiered at HollyShorts Film Festival and won Best Director, Short Film at The Method Fest Film Festival.
February Short Film Festival Showcase Judges
Oluwaseun Babalola – February 2021 Film Festival Showcase Judge (bio above)
Dawn Borchardt- February 2021 Film Festival Showcase Judge
Dawn Borchardt is a Salt Lake City-based film festival producer, film podcaster and filmmaker. She has worked at many film festivals around the US including Sundance and the LA Film Fest, and currently produces the Freeland Film Fest which focuses on sharing stories that inspire. She hosts the podcast Faux Reel interviewing indie filmmakers about how their personal histories and beliefs interweave with the stories they share on screen. Dawn’s lifelong love of horror film is what got her immersed in the film world, ultimately landing her focus on experimental work, documentaries and stories that inspire change.
Erica Duffy- February 2021 Film Festival Showcase Judge
Since moving to Chicago seven years ago, entrepreneur and production powerhouse, Erica Duffy has founded and grown Camera Ambassador. This camera, grip, and electric rental house is not only known for being one of the most reliable and artist-friendly houses but also the only female-owned and operated location in the country. After purchasing and renovating a 6,000 sq ft industrial loft, it now features a fully equipped recording studio, state-of-the-art equipment prep bays, an event space, and co-working offices. When a bucket list script or crew lands in her lap she always loves getting on-set to produce. One of her recent projects includes an episodic tv show for Cowboy Cerrone while training to fight Connor McGregor in early 2020. Erica’s newest endeavor is serving as the executive director of The Midwest Film Festival. She is passionate about building relationships and fostering community and feels fortunate to have many avenues to accomplish this.
Veronica Miles – February 2021 Film Festival Showcase Judge
Veronica Miles dedication to the cinematic experience led to a career in Cinema Exhibition over the past 8 years: managing dine-in cinemas, producing large-scale screening events and premieres and working at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, AFI Fest, New Zealand International Film Festival, TCM Fest, and more. She has now moved into Impact Producing for Spellbound Productions II, overseeing distribution of their award-winning documentary General Magic, which had a 25-city US theatrical run and is now available on Showtime and VOD. She is currently a Producing lead on their next project in development. Her latest short film “Bess” was completely self-produced and follows a woman seeking healing in New Orleans after her grandmother’s death.
2020 Film Festival highlights
Rebecca Martin – Festival Director and Founder of Cinema Femme
Rebecca Martin is the Managing Editor of Cinema Femme magazine and the Festival Director of Cinema Femme Short Film Fest. She founded her publication in 2018 because she wanted to create a platform for female voices in the film community. She has hosted film screenings in Chicago, led virtual panel discussions, Q&As, is the Cinema Femme Short Films Director, and has covered festivals like the Chicago International Film Festival, Sundance, Tribeca, and the Bentonville Film Festival.
I started Cinema Femme because I wanted more female voices in the film discourse, as well as more stories about female filmmakers, to be elevated,” said Martin. “The publication began by balancing interviews with film criticism. Our audience became largely comprised of female filmmakers who were gravitating towards these interviews. One year and a hundred interviews later, this festival just seemed to make sense because all of these womxn who had invested in the magazine had also produced their own amazing movies. I wanted to give these emerging female filmmakers an opportunity to show their work while connecting with womxn who have been in the industry for a while. I can see the womxn whose films will be screening at this year’s festival going on to having amazing careers, and though I don’t have a lot of money myself, I do know people who can help them. What I want this festival to do, more than anything, is to help these womxn have exciting careers that will enable their stories to live on. I want young girls to see that there are female filmmakers out there who they can look up to and make them realize that their dreams are reachable.Rebecca Martin, Founder of Cinema Femme