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Filmmaker Spotlight: Jeanette Sears + Nicole Solomon

Posted on November 6, 2018

Jeanette Sears + Nicole Solomon

Director of “Sanctuary”
PROGRAM 1 – Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 8pm

What  was the inspiration for your film?

Jeanette – This film came from a place of wanting to see more queer history on screen. The few portrayals we currently have are often white washed, cis male stories, and I wanted to shed light on the fact that other people existed in times before us. Obviously there’s a strong influence from Leslie Feinberg’s work (a personal Queero of mine), but really the inspiration was hoping to tell a piece queer history that included people of color and examine the ideas of being outside the gender binary even in the 1960’s.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

Jeanette – I acted in the film for the first time, and I learned how important it is, as a director, writer, creator, to know your characters! Knowing what I wanted to say with the film truly helped in being able to act and help my co-star act as well.

Nicole – I loved co-directing with Jeanette. I hadn’t co-directed anything since a horror parody my sister and I made for fun back when I was in college and I didn’t know if the process would work for me. I worried about a too-many-cooks effect, but it wasn’t like that at all. Jeanette and I have worked together on a number of shorts and this felt like a natural extension of our ongoing collaboration. I think we communicated well and expectations were clear, including that, at the end of the day, this was Jeanette’s film and I was on set to help execute their vision. They did a great job laying out that vision to me and it was a pleasure to bring their excellent script to life.

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

Jeanette – I truly hope that there are more and more trans / gnc directors, writers, cinematographers, and creators behind the camera, not only in front of it. It’s so important for us to tell our own stories and share our world view. Being in front of the camera is vital, but we should have the power to tell the world about our lives and make the stories that we’re acting in.

Nicole – Hopefully more trans/gnc folks behind the camera as well as in front of it, telling their own stories. The world needs more films from trans/gnc filmmakers of all genres, on all subjects.

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film

Jeanette – This was a first for me, directing and acting as well. I very much enjoyed working with Nicole as the director on set, because I knew I could focus on acting and trust her instincts in terms of direction and working with our other frequent collaborator, DP Yessica Curiel Montoya. Knowing the two of them were taking care of the logistics / technical aspects was a godsend, and the film is everything I had hoped for.

Nicole – Watching Jeanette and Latresa play off each other was so rewarding, they make an amazing team. I also hit the art department jackpot and did a solid for my grandmother all in one when I asked if I could use some of the half-century old (really) items in her guest bathroom medicine cabinet for the film. She was delighted to get rid of it, and now I have authentic 1960s mouthwash, ace bandages and more! I’ll have to make another period piece.

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

Jeanette – Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Carol, Skyfall

Nicole – Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, American Psycho, Get Out

Sanctuary

Directed by Jeanette Sears + Nicole Solomon

PROGRAM 1 – Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 8pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Fri Nov 9 2018 8:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Lorin Murphy

Posted on November 2, 2018

Lorin Murphy

Director of “Homosafe”
PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm

What  was the inspiration for your film?

The song Homosafe first of all and secondly a story one of the band members shared while we were in the script writing process. A night after one of the “alt-right” nazi rallies in Berkeley, a group of nazis tried to get in the door of 924 Gilman st. The club’s security and patrons and the bands chased the nazis to their car.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

When working with a large cast, its important to have a few background action directors and possibly a bull horn.

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

My hope for the future is that there will be better representation of trans and gender non conforming people in the media. I feel the way we will get there is to have more trans and gender non conforming people making film and television and more being cast in those roles.

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film

Working with my friends to make some art together and also smashing a car.

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

Thats a tough one, like really tough. The Dreamers by Bernardo Bertolucci, Tangerine by Sean Baker and I don’t know… the 5th Element, I could watch that movie over and over.   

Homosafe

Directed by Lorin Murphy

PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 10 2018 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Samantha Bloomfield

Posted on November 1, 2018

Samantha Bloomfield

Director of “St. Anothony’s Fire”
PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm

What was the inspiration for your film?

The band Girl Colors approached me about doing a music video for them, and their only request or guideline was that we shoot it in a Wes Anderson sort of style. Given that as their only stipulation, I had a lot of creative freedom to come up with the storyline of the video, and I knew right away that I wanted to do something of a “quirky love story”. It started out as a simple pitch; “A pirate is seduced by and falls in love with a drag queen.” From there, it gradually became about a celebration of everyone’s unique individuality and of love in it’s most unconditional form. The inspiration was mostly my desire to fit that message into a very fun, quirky, and mildly absurd kind of world. 

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

I think this particular project better prepared me to work with performers in music videos in the future. Often, the band was too worried about their musical performance while playing along with the song. I had to try and coach them that it didn’t matter if they were playing everything 100% correctly because we’re obviously not going to be hearing any of those mistakes in the actual music video. Despite my best efforts to get them to remain straight-faced or dead-pan, there are a couple of shots in the music video where you can catch them looking down at their instruments. On future music videos, I would make it a point to the band to avoid that at all costs. 

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

There’s no way of knowing what’s around the corner, but my hope is that we continue to see more Trans/GNC related themes and stories in mainstream media, and more visibility for those stories as Trans/GNC artists are given a shot to work in the industry and tell their stories. Given the political climate, there’s certainly an urgency amongst our community to make our voices heard, and I think one of the best ways that we as filmmakers can perpetuate that is through exactly that; Filmmaking. Hopefully this leads to people who are not only willing to listen to our stories but who are moved by them and understand the value of letting diverse, marginalized voices be heard. 

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

There’s a big wedding scene at the climax of the music video, and my favorite memory from this project was staying up the night before prepping for this scene on location. Our entire crew was in that auditorium prepping lighting, discussing camera angles, putting together our set design. It was a big collaborative effort between the entire crew, who gave up their Friday night to make sure everything was prepped to run efficiently on the day of shooting. The band was based in Indiana so they drove down that night before shooting, and came by in the evening to check out the set and meet some of the crew. It was this exciting moment of finally seeing everything come together, and everyone who worked on the project getting together all at once to sort of understand and conceptualize what we were doing. And of course we were all in a big rush to get through it so we could all get a good night’s sleep before the shoot. Al these months of prep and talking about it, and this was the moment where it all became real and everyone was suddenly zoned-in. It was a very special memory that I’ll never forget. 

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films

JAWS, Inception, Her. 

St. Anthony’s Fire

Directed by Samantha Bloomfield

PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 10 2018 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: StormMiguel Florez

Posted on October 31, 2018

StormMiguel Florez

Director of “A Murder of Porgs”
PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm

What was the inspiration for your film? 

A scene from “The Last Jedi.” Plus, Star Wars has sort of taken over my life. My wyfe and co-director of Murder of Porgs, Annalise Ophelian is making a documentary film about girls and women of Star Wars fandom called “Looking For Leia.” I am doing location sound for the film, so we’ve been on the road for the past two years interviewing and shooting. It’s been non-stop Star Wars, so it makes sense that we’d end up doing a super silly spontaneous short inspired by the Star Wars saga. There’s some alliteration for your behind!

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

The future of trans/non-binary filmmaking is:

Trans/nb people making more films that aren’t only necessarily about being trans/nb.

All trans/nb characters being played only by trans/nb actors – at least until a vast majority of trans/nb actors are also being cast as non-trans characters.

Way more trans/nb directors, trans/nb casting directors, trans/nb cinematographers and directors of photography, trans editors… you get the picture.

Stories about trans/nb people being heroes, every day people, politicians, sorcerers, moms, dads, siblings – without their transness needing to be a central component to their story.

That’s just the beginning.

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

That it was conceptualized one day and filmed and completed the very next day. It made me question everything else I’m doing related to film. (Lol)

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Away We Go

Frida

A Murder of Porgs

Directed by StormMiguel Florez and Annalise Ophelian

PROGRAM 2 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 7pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 10 2018 7:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Ryan Cassata

Posted on October 30, 2018

Ryan Cassata

What  was the inspiration for your film?

The inspiration behind my film was my personal experience transitioning from female to male and going from my dads daughter to his son.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

I learned that even with a small indie budget a film can make an impact! 

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

I believe that more community members will rise up and tell their stories through film. I hope everyone has the drive and opportunity to chase their dreams. 

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

My favorite part of making this music video was when I had all the actors in the room together and everyone listened to the song for the first time. All of the actors in the film were either trans, queer or parents of trans people. Most people cried because they felt like they could relate or they had some relief. 

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films. 

My favorite films are: 

Inside Llewyn Davis, Fever Pitch (2005 film), Pirates of the Caribbean

Daughter

Directed by Ryan Cassata & Maxine Bowen 

PROGRAM 1 – Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 8pm
PROGRAM 4 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 2pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Fri Nov 9, 2018 8:00PM” from the drop down menu or “Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:00PM” from the drop down menu.


Filmmaker Spotlight: Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens

Posted on October 29, 2018

Annie Sprinkle + Beth Stephens

Directors of “Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure”
PROGRAM 6 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 6pm

What was the inspiration for your film? 

ANNIE: My love for water. I’ve been an aquaphilic all my life. My name IS Sprinkle. Plus I was upset about the draught.

BETH: The inspiration for our film Water Makes Us Wet: An ecosexual love story, is water which is so fluid and so slutty plus it is essential to life.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

ANNIE: That touring water treatment plants is fun and romantic.

BETH: I learned that I never really knew what the end of the film would be until the film was finished. 

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

ANNIE: Lots more trans film festivals, of course, and more films by trans ecosexuals.

BETH: The future of trans/nongendernonconforming filmmaking is as expansive as gender itself.

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

ANNIE: When we were rear ended and had a bad crash our dog Butch bolted. No one thought we’d ever find him—- he might have been badly wounded or dead. The moment we found him was a miracle and so ecstatic. Of course we put the whole story in our film. 

BETH: My favorite memory of working on our film was when we included our accident. This allowed us to use footage that we had that we could not use anywhere else. It also forced us to be creative beyond documenting all things water. Luckily this had a happy ending.

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

ANNIE:
Gypsy
West Side Story
Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn

BETH:
In the Realm of the Senses, Nagisa Oshima
Aguirre, the Wrath of God  Werner Herzog 
The Rider, Chloē Zhao

Water Makes Us Wet
An Ecosexual Adventure

Directed by Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens
Narrated by Sandy Stone as the Earth

PROGRAM 6 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 6pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:00PM” from the drop down menu


Filmmaker Spotlight: Mizz June

Posted on October 28, 2018

Mizz June

Director of “War Call”
PROGRAM 1 – Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 8pm

What  was the inspiration for your film? 

I wrote this song and began filming this music video in 2016- in the midst of the presidential election and the lenient conviction of Islan Nettles murderer. The toxicity of what I saw happening around me forced my hand to create art that imitated the battle that me and other Transwomen experience daily.

Resilience and solidarity. Rebirth from destruction. Answering a call to war against the darkness and rage I saw around me. Life was the inspiration.

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film? 

I had been so terrified of getting my first self produced music video “wrong” that I had extreme anxiety.  I thought I might come across as too preachy and bizarre for a debut single off of my official album. I also had doubts because this single and video are an extreme departure from my previous demo material. 

But, then I realized- I’m an artist!  And, expressing myself is a necessity.

So, I eventually went with my gut and got out of my own way. As cliche as it sounds, I simply learned to TRUST THE PROCESS. 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking? 

Well, speaking from my own experience as a Black Transwoman, I am consistently inspired by the immense amount of fellow talented Black Transwomen who’re already highly visible in the entertainment industry.

Our narratives are so important as we’ve literally risked our lives to be ourselves. Along with Latin@ Transwomen, we’ve helped shape and continue to build the culture of TLGBQ communities, but very few of us actually own or create our stories.

I see that changing in the future. I see (& retain hope) that more Black Transwomen will step into our power. I see us being filmmakers,  playwrights, film/television/ & music video directors… BOSSES. And, I’m ready for it. 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

There were many favorite memories,  but there were two in particular that had stuck out for me. 

The first had been filming with my crew and fellow cast members. Bringing the storyboard I drew to life was just mind blowing. 

The second highlight of this process had been seeing the finished video after two years of trial and error. 

War Call

Directed by Mizz June & Kjerstin Rossi

PROGRAM 1 – Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 8pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Fri Nov 9, 2018 8:00PM” from the drop down menu


Filmmaker Spotlight: Kat Cole

Posted on October 26, 2018

Kat Cole

Director of “Grandmother and Me”:
PROGRAM 4 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 2pm

What  was the inspiration for your film?

I had known Del’s story for over 5 years but it wasn’t until Del and I had been talking about it with my professor that I understood this was a story that should be shared.  It was one of those “aha” moments where you don’t realize that your everyday experience is actually something that can be powerful and worth sharing.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

It’s hard to make a film by yourself!  Getting constant input from my professors and classmates at CCA was a huge benefit, and through this experience I learned how valuable it is to have feedback during the filmmaking process.

 

What is the future of trans/gendernonconforming filmmaking?

During my screening at Reeling, the LGBTQ+ film festival in Chicago, I saw a short film by Joseph Ressler about his trans brother Blake’s struggle with mental illness. It was a powerful, deeply personal film that was made with a lot of love. I’m grateful that films like his are looking at mental heath within our communities.  

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

Seeing the home footage of Del’s grandmother, which were taken by his sister.  Those short video clips are the closest thing I’d get to meeting Jean. 

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.  

Ali: Fear East the Soul by Rainer Werner Fassbinder – it’s complicated, messy and dives in to xenophobia and an intergenerational romance in the 70’s

Chantal Ackerman (all her films) but Je Tu Il Elle stands out for me

Disney’s Aladdin (what can I say, Princess Jasmine was my “root”)

GRANDMOTHER AND ME
Directed by Kat Cole
PROGRAM 4 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 2pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:00PM” from the drop down menu


Filmmaker Spotlight: Jurgen Ureña

Posted on October 24, 2018

Jurgen Ureña

Director of “Abrazame Como Antes / Hold Me Like Before”:
PROGRAM 5 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 4pm

What was the inspiration for your film?

At the beginning of the process, I was very interested in the relationship between two characters of the book Candelaria del azar, which was written by the Costa Rican – Chilean writer Tatiana Lobo: a transgender prostitute and a boy who has an accident and is helped by her. I was taken by the way this trans character gets closer to the boy and a maternal bonding is created. Then I wanted to explore this dimension of motherhood, which grew apart of the immaculate vision that is usually presented to us.

Later my interest moved towards the idea of family in the transgender community. In many of the women trans that I consulted during the research there was a need to have an alternative family, one of their own. Little by little, this diverse way of experiencing family became the main inspiration of the movie.

 

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

The process of doing Abrázame como antes took seven years. Thanks to my absolute ignorance of the trans world, to begin with, and to the fact that I followed a series of questions that arose during those seven years, I learned a lot. I consider myself an intuitive filmmaker. I usually follow this questioning while I’m researching.

If I think now about the place I was before my involvement in this movie, when I used to walk close-by to these transgender girls in the streets of San José, it becomes evident that I knew very little about this world. Now I have learned, for example, that is necessary to find ways to listen and talk with this diverse world, precisely because we have a lot to learn from it.

 

What is the future of trans/gender nonconforming filmmaking?

I have more clarity about the past and the present of transgender nonconforming filmmaking than about its future. During the creative process of Abrázame como antes, I realized that directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Rainer Werner Fassbinder or Héctor Babenco, that were recognized for the inclusion of prominent transgender figures in their films, worked with actors who did not belong to this community.

Then I wondered why giving a place to transgender people in front of the screen had taken so long. Maybe it was because the cinema industry only answers to social challenges in a slow way and only in the direction that we are ready to assume as a society. This situation is starting to change, particularly after the release of films such as Tangerine (2015) and A fantastic woman (2017). This change supposes a present that allows us to be enthusiastic and optimistic. I feel very happy thinking that Abrázame como antes, although a small film, shows that this change is possible.

 

What is a highlight or a favorite memory from working on your film?

Before Abrázame como antes I shot a short film: Paso en falso (2010). At that time, it became evident that telling a transgender story without a transgender actor was kind of a contradiction. Then, with the help of an NGO called Transvida, I got in touch with 13 transgender girls and showed them the short film.

At the end of the projection, I commented that I was not sure about the way I was representing the trans character. Then, in unison, the comment was: “It is awful!”. Then I thanked them for their honesty and invited them to get on board as script advisers and actresses for my film. Happily, they agreed. This moment represents to me the real start of this journey entitled Abrázame como antes, which was full of discoveries and learnings.

 

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

Because I always loved watching films, I imagined that making them would be a good idea. I am still passionate about films and, during almost three decades, I have followed with enthusiasm the work of very diverse directors, from Orson Welles to Agnès Varda, from Jim Jarmusch to Wong Kar-wai. In consequence my favorite films are always shifting. Nevertheless, there are some movies that have remained very close to me for a long time. Three of these films are Touch of Evil (1958), Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) and Blue Velvet (1986).

ABRAZAME COMO ANTES /
HOLD ME LIKE BEFORE
Directed by Jurgen Ureña
PROGRAM 5 – Sun, Nov 11, 2018 at 4pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:00PM” from the drop down menu


Filmmaker Spotlight: Kerri Cecil

Posted on October 22, 2018

KERRI CECIL

What  was the inspiration for your film?

The inspiration actually came from watching Hulu’s Handmaids Tale (season 1). It made me sick to see that they completely wrote off LGBTQ people fighting back. I always visualized us out there fighting back if they came for us in the night, so I wrote a story where a trans woman does just that, fights back. Plus we trans and GNC  people have never had a superhero on the big screen so I wanted to fix that as well. I am currently writing the feature film version of this short film.

What is one thing you’ve learned from making your film?

One thing I learned was making films is a lot more expensive then originally thought. Also that directing is a dance we have with our cast and crew.

What is the future of trans/gender-nonconforming filmmaking?

I think it is time to show how powerful we are in the community. We are superhero, leaders and we won’t take their shit any more. I have always been drawn to stories of powerful women taking a stand and now I want to tell those stories with a trans story line. Not about our transitions, thats so played out, but about what we do in the face of opposition and hate.

Name 3 of your all-time favorite films.

The Matrix, Underworld, and Wonder Woman.

AWAKEN
Directed by Kerri Cecil
PROGRAM 3 – Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 9pm
Roxie Theater

*To purchase tickets for this program, be sure to click on “Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:00PM” from the drop down menu

*PROGRAM 3 IS CLOSED-CAPTIONED FOR DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING AUDIENCES!