Roger Ebert says movie studios produce the majority of blockbusters with a 14-year-old boy in mind.
So much for the interests of adult women.
Girls Inc. of Santa Fe hopes to fill that artistic gap and raise some funds by bringing LUNAFEST, a national touring women’s film festival, to Santa Fe at the Center for Contemporary Arts on Saturday.
Also known as the fundraiser-in-a-box, the 12-year-old LUNAFEST connects women, their stories and their causes through film. The program highlights women as leaders in society, illustrated through nine short films by women filmmakers.
Directed in a variety of styles and an assortment of content, the films aim to tug at both the heartstrings and the funny bone, inspiring women to make a difference in their communities. This season’s program will travel to more than 150 cities and screen before 20,000 people. Each filmmaker receives a $1,000 award.
Before the screening, a panel discussion with women in the New Mexico film and entertainment industry will present a question and answer session with filmmaker Debra Anderson, casting director Jo Edna Boldin, Carolyn Handler Miller (specializing in digital media, writing, webisodic TV and more), local Screen Actors Guild actress Debrianna Mansini, casting director/stunt woman Angelique Midthunder, as well as Santa Fe Film Festival director Diane Schneier Perrin.
Girls Inc. is a national program to give girls the skills they need to make healthy choices.
“Our mission is we inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold,” development director Alexis Brown said.
That goal meshes with LUNAFEST’s vision of uniting women through film.
“We have these unique perspectives that are often not told,” LUNAFEST spokeswoman Sabrina Chin said. “We wanted to do something to give a voice to women through the arts.”
All of the proceeds go to charity, with 15 percent to the Breast Cancer Fund and 85 percent to Girls Inc.
LUNAFEST organizers send scouts to festivals such as Telluride, Sundance and Tribeca in search of compelling films for, by and about women. This year’s submissions totalled 950. An advisory board watches them all, paring down the finalists to nine or 10, Chin said.
This years’s selection includes “Blank Canvas,” a short documentary about a woman named Kim, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer and loses her hair to chemotherapy.
“She felt like she lost her femininity,” Chin said.
Taking a decidedly unconventional route, Kim back-flipped her point of view and chose to embrace her baldness by turning it into art. “She decided to use her head as a blank canvas,” Chin said.
The film follows Kim as an artist tattoos and paints her hairless scalp.
“It’s a body image film (and) that’s one of women’s health issues,” Chin continued. “It was a way to empower herself.”
“Blank Canvas” filmmaker Sarah Berkovich spent a summer in Los Angeles interning at the International Documentary Association, where she helped coordinate “Docuweeks,” an Oscar-qualifying theatrical showcase. She is currently working on her master’s degree in documentary film and video at Stanford University.
“Chalk” follows a gymnast selected for an Olympics training camp. “There’s friendship, but there’s also competition,” Chin said.
Directed by Martina Amati, “Chalk” premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011 and is collecting awards along the international festival circuit.
“Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home and Other Works” profiles photographer Sylvia Plachy, perhaps best known for her weekly pictures in the Village Voice. Her work has been widely exhibited both in the U.S. and abroad, appearing in Aperture, Art Forum and the New York Times. Filmmaker Rebecca Dreyfus coaxed the ironically camera-shy Plachy to open up about the passion in her work. Famed photographer Richard Avedon once wrote of her: “She makes me laugh and she breaks my heart.”
Plachy’s son, the Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody, contributed to the film’s score. The documentary screened at both the Tribeca and Los Angeles film festivals.
The lineup also includes the animated short, “Flawed,” about accepting yourself, imperfections and all, and “Lunch Date,” about a woman whose boyfriend sends his 14-year-old brother to break up with her. The documentary “Georgena Terry” explains how the founder of Terry Bicycles revolutionized cycling with bike frames designed for women’s bodies.
Brown hopes the festival nets about $3,000 for Girls Inc.
“It’s the first year, so we want to make it small,” she said. CCA seats about 120 people.
“There’s a definite connection in terms of we have a media literacy program that talks about how the media influences self-worth and body image,” she continued. “Also, women in film and entertainment are very few and far between.”
LUNAFEST founder Kit Crawford established the festival in 2000 as co-owner of LUNA, a nutrition bar for women. To date, 92 filmmakers have seen their work featured, raising $1.2 million for charity. The Breast Cancer Fund is the event’s main beneficiary. The organization is dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer, a disease impacting one in eight women.