Citizen Jane Film Festival | 10.15.10-10.17.10

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This year Citizen Jane will be held on October 15-17 and offers screenings of many films you may not get to see elsewhere.

The 82nd annual Academy Awards saw two firsts for women: Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for Best Director and her film The Hurt Locker (produced by Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro) won for Best Picture. Both victories were sterling accomplishments, particularly considering that the budget for The Hurt Locker was a small fraction of that for Avatar, the film considered its closest competitor.
Sadly, if you look at the offerings at your local multiplex you might start wondering if the Oscars took place in some Brigadoon-like world that won’t appear again for another hundred years. Which is to say, mainstream filmmaking remains pretty much a boy’s club: looking at the top 250 grossing films of 2009, only 7 percent of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on them were women. This does not reflect well on our supposedly pluralistic society in which women constitute a majority not only of the general population, but also of the film-going public (55 percent of the total in 2009, according to the MPAA: http://womenandhollywood.com/2010/03/11/guess-what-women-buy-more-movie-tickets-than-men/).
The Citizen Jane Film Festival, held annually in Columbia, Missouri, addresses this imbalance by showcasing the work of female directors and film industry professionals. The festival’s roots lie in the Citizen Jane Film Series, founded in 2004 at Stephens College in Columbia to feature the work of female filmmakers, producers and writers. This year Citizen Jane will be held on October 15-17 and offers screenings of many films you may not get to see elsewhere. It also includes several panels and workshops and enough parties and special events to satisfy anyone’s need for fun. You can find a schedule of events, directions to the venues and ticket information from the festival web site http://www.citizenjanefilm.org/. And here’s a strong point in favor of this particular festival: the venues are all within walking distance of one other, so you can just park your car and spend the day in cinematic bliss.
Citizen Jane kicks off on Friday, October 15 with a workshop titled “Create, Liberate, Aggregate!!!” by noted producer Christine Vachon (11 am-2 pm in Charters Auditorium, Stephens College). Vachon is the co-founder of Killer Films and has produced a long slate of critically-acclaimed and financially-successful films including Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven, Happiness, I Shot Andy Warhol, and I’m Not There. Marcus Hu, president of Strand Releasing, says she is “the most important person to the New Queer Cinema,” and director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) calls her “one of the most important producers in American today.” So, you might be able to learn a few things from her. She’ll be talking about the new landscape of independent film including emerging models of distribution and financing, opportunities in television, and the growing importance of social media.
Also on Friday (3:00-4:30, Charters Auditorium, Stephens College) a panel of filmmakers whose work is featured in this year’s festival will speak about how they got into filmmaking, what the work is like on a day-to-day basis, and whatever the audience may choose to ask them. On Saturday morning at 10:00 at the Ragtag Cinema, director Judith Helfand will discuss Cooked, her documentary-in-progress about the 1995 Chicago heat wave that resulted in 739 deaths. She will also address documentary and socially-conscious filmmaking in general. Also on Saturday (4:30-5:30 pm, Charters Auditorium, Stephens College), a group of filmmakers, funders and distributors will discuss the business of making films, including financing, distribution and promotion. On Friday there’s a dance at Sideshow, featuring Miss Jubilee & the Humdingers and Solar Legs, on Saturday a dance at the Uprise Bakery, featuring DJ Katie Wicks and Videology and on Sunday a brunch at the Uprise Bakery (10 am-12 pm).
And yes, there are films. If you’re in the mood for award-winners, check out Tiny Furniture (Friday, 7:30 pm, Missouri Theatre), which won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative at SXSW as well as the Emergent Narrative Female Director prize for Lena Durham (who’s all of 23 years old and made the film in just a few months—are you jealous yet?). Another good choice would be Winter’s Bone (Sunday, 5:15 pm, Windsor Auditorium, Stephens College) directed by Debra Granik and shot in Missouri. Winter’s Bone won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Granik and Anne Rosellini (and if it doesn’t scoop up a few Oscars as well there is no justice in this world).
If you’re looking for something more offbeat, check out Growing Up Female (Sunday, 2:45 pm, Ragtag Cinema). This 1971 feminist documentary looks at the lives of six women and, through them, the forces that shape female socialization. Having lived through that era (yes, I’m old enough to have been a member of more than one consciousness-raising group) I can’t wait to see it—and if you’re a young woman you ought to go if only so you can thank your lucky stars for all the things you don’t have to deal with today.
If your taste runs more to the international you might like The Sari Soldiers (Saturday, 2:15 pm, Ragtag Cinema), which looks at the efforts of six women to shape the future of Nepal. The documentary War Don Don (Saturday, 4:45 pm, Ragtag Cinema) takes you inside a war crimes trial in Freetown, Sierra Leone and offers a look at the ambiguities and uncertainties of determining what really happened in a time of war. The Aviatrix of Kazbek (Sunday, 2:15 pm, Ragtag Cinema), a feature film set in The Netherlands during World War II, looks at the experiences of a young Dutch woman while a troop of Georgian soldiers is stationed on her home island.
There’s lots more, of course, and you can check out the complete schedule, including films (with synopses), panels and special events, at the festival’s web site. Tickets can be purchased online from http://www.citizenjanefilmfestival.com/?page_id=79 or in person at the Ragtag Cinema Box Office. For most films they’re $8/$6.50 for students and seniors ($10/$8 for opening night), the Friday and Saturday dances have a $5 cover, the Christine Vachon workshop is $8, and the Sunday brunch is $13. | Sarah Boslaugh
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