The Aero Theatre put ladies first last weekend, when the first annual Lady Filmmakers Festival filled the iconic theatre’s big screen. From amateur filmmakers to big-name stars like Courtney Cox, the festival showcased a slew of talent, featuring films by and about women of all shapes and sizes.
A portion of proceeds from the festival benefited The Mary Magdalene Project, a program serving women who have been victimized by street prostitution. While struggling to exit the world of prostitution, clients of The Mary Magdalene Project have access to HIV testing, transitional housing, therapy, substance abuse counseling and more.
The weekend-long film festival kicked off on Saturday morning with a segment of short films entitled Ladies Illuminate. The two-hour segment included six short films: Sleeping, Beyond Words, I’m Not Britney, The Manual, The Sacrifice and Courtney Cox’s The Monday Before Thanksgiving. Topics varied, from the solemn tone of Sarah Spillane’s The Manual – a story centered on a young boy whose parents ship him off to be “cured” of his homosexuality – to the more upbeat, runway model’s statement made in I’m Not Britney. Chilling events unfolded in Diane Namm’s The Sacrifice, which glimpses the polygamist lifestyle and its violent impact on young girls. In Doug Conant’s Sleeping, a young girl is hired to baby-sit, but doesn’t know about the family’s heartbreaking secret.
Conant’s film would not have qualified for the festival if not for its female producer, Christina Nayve. Festival rules dictate that films must have females filling the role of producer, writer, director or cinematographer. Nayve said that having Sleeping in the festival was an honor, and a nice reminder that she is an accomplished woman.
“We have a strong female presence in the film, beginning with the origins, a flash-fiction story by acclaimed author Katharine Weber,” Nayve said, adding that the film’s cinematographer, production designer, set decorator and script supervisor are all women.
Nayve also said it was an honor to be featured alongside Courtney Cox’s film, a short starring Laura Dern that traces a single woman’s grieving process after the death of her mother.
In addition to the short film category on Saturday morning, several other shorts were shown over the weekend, as well as several feature-length films. Filmmakers came from the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., France and a handful of other countries.
A post-festival special award was given to Nia Peeples, and several awards were given to the festival’s featured filmmakers. The Audience Choice Award went to “Slap” a short film directed by Grant Barbeito and produced by Gayla Kraestsch Hartsough, about two ordinary guys who get into a heated debate on a range of topics…hmm…ladies first?
For a full list of awardees, e-mail [email protected]