Show us your female-driven, Bechdel-Tested short narrative films!
Bluestocking 2017 (R)Evolution
Statement from Bluestocking Film Series Founder, Kate Kaminski
Bluestocking began as an experiment that asked the question: if I brought female-centered, female-directed films to Maine, would the audience show up? Over the past six years, the audience has indeed grown and Bluestocking’s 2016 event was the biggest yet, engaging women in film activists and the larger film industry in new and exciting ways.
A range of special guests, bloggers, and talented filmmakers from across the country turned our 6th annual festival into a riotous celebration of film inclusion and strong, complex women on-screen, behind the camera, and in the room.
From the very first screening in October of 2011 at St. Lawrence Arts Center, we have celebrated and promoted talented filmmakers who take the creative risk of placing female protagonists front and center, serving as an exclusive international showcase to amplify diverse female voices and stories. I am immensely proud of the contribution Bluestocking has made to the chorus of voices across the country and around the world demanding film equality.
The statistics speak for themselves: in six years, we have screened 84 films, brought 43 guest artists to Maine and presented in 16 venues to an audience of thousands (in Maine, the U.S. and around the globe). Noteworthy, generous sponsors and grantors have shared our vision all along and to them we are grateful.
In 2017, Bluestocking will commence on a quest to expand its mission and build capacity by focusing on organizing presentations in areas where support for that mission is strong and vital.
What does this mean in real terms?
- I will embark on a curatorial expedition to find and invite wonderful, well-produced, female-driven narrative short films to take out on the road.
- Bluestocking will travel across the country and around the world. From Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Sweden and the U.K., the chances that Bluestocking’s program could screen in a city near you are better than ever.
- In lieu of a Portland-based festival in July 2017, we will seek unconventional venues around Maine where we can organize “pop up” screenings of selected films. These types of informal screenings will allow us to reach audiences that we haven’t yet.
As a filmmaker, I identify myself as a cinema anarchist. That means I don’t play by the rules that others set for what a film should look like (or what camera I should use, etc.), how the script should be written, or who should be the main character. As the founder of this festival, from the beginning, I have set Bluestocking’s course to prove only one thing: that audiences love a good story no matter what the protagonist’s gender is. That we are now taking a new direction in the way that we present Bluestocking’s program feels like (r)evolution. And that’s exciting.
In closing, I want to thank again our audiences and all the many wonderful people who’ve volunteered their time, energy, money, and support for Bluestocking over the years. To all of you, I say, our mission remains the same. Now, onward!
This past summer, during the Bluestocking 2016 weekend, a crew of filmmakers and guests of the festival gathered in a photo studio with photographer and Bluestocking alum (and ally) Reggie Burrows Hodges to have some fun and create some Cinema (R)Evolution magic.
Hodges created these concept photos starting from the idea that, in a world where just 9% of the top 250 grossing commercial films are directed by women, we need to continue to call for 50% gender equity in the film industry, both above and below the line, in front of and behind the camera.
These are the stunning result of what we heard was a rabble-rousing, sweaty good time for all. Enjoy!
There’s a splendid truth in the phrase “there’s power in numbers.” Because one can’t deny that people who work together are greater than they can ever be working apart. So during the two days of the Bluestocking Film Series there were a slew of networking and social events that catered to this mantra.
It all started a week earlier with a hashtag: Drive She Said, which brought women across social media to engage in a live tweeting session to talk about women both behind and in front of the camera. Each tweet was accompanied with #DriveSheSaid and a beautiful conversation started virtually about the need for complex female characters as well as praise for storytellers like Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes who are presently providing those types of characters in the industry. The feeling of camaraderie during the live tweet was then carried into the real world during the weekend in Portland, ME.
One of the first networking events was held at Slab, a restaurant with its staple items being pizza and drinks. Women from all parts of the country, some as far as New Zealand, came representing all aspects of film. Each woman stood up and stated their name, their specialty in the field and what they were looking to get out of the weekend in Portland. Watching woman after woman stand up and introduce themselves one thing was strikingly clear: our commitment to equity for women in the industry being the standard, not the exception.
All of the filmmakers, women and men, who created stories that put women and their experiences at the forefront represent what I hope to be a new trend: getting women behind the wheel. We too deserve a spot on the tracks, a chance behind the wheel and a future where our success will be greater and more frequent than ever before.
In a room filled with ambitious women: filmgoers, filmmakers, actresses and lovers of cinema there is only one word – electric. This is the most accurate description of the Bluestocking Film Series that took place July 15th & 16th, now in its 6th year. This series, helmed by artistic director and filmmaker Kate Kaminski, is unique from other festivals and film exhibitions that have come before it. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Portland, Maine the series attracts women from all aspects of filmmaking: from writing and directing to production design, acting and even film critique. The films shown over the two-days are damn good, but there’s one twist – each film has to pass the Bechdel test. If you’re not familiar with what the Bechdel test is, it’s a set of criteria that must be met in order to pass. (1) It has to have at least two women in it, who (2) talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.
The series kicked off with its first event: a screening and Q&A with Ariel Dougherty, a veteran filmmaker, activist and the founder of Women Make Movies, whose work pushed the boundaries of film and helped create a space for what was dubbed feminist cinema in the 1970s. At the Maine College of Art, I sat in a room filled with women and men of all ages and backgrounds during the screening of Harriet Kriegal’s film Domestic Tranquility and Dougherty’s Sweet Bananas. The screening, totaling 45 minutes in length, showed a range of complex female characters toying with motifs of repression and liberation as they pertained to women’s identity during that era. In Domestic Tranquility, through a series of visceral images and deliberate framing we get a sense that the main character is experiencing the emotional and psychological tug that is motherhood, marriage and the aspiration for self-fulfilled potential. In Sweet Bananas, a play on the phrase “Tough Bananas,” a weaver, Go-Go dancer, puppet maker and vagabond come together through kismet, each character so distinct in voice and motivation that it’s almost like each of the woman have a full-fledged life beyond the frames of the film.
The intricacies of Dougherty’s Sweet Bananas are in large part due to her decision to use a set of prompts for her actresses in lieu of a cold set script which allowed us to see in these characters a vibrancy that spilled out of each celluloid frame. She valued open-ended scripts and non-professional actors and this resulted in some really compelling characters on screen. When going into depth on the needs for women in film she emphasized how essential it was for visions, fantasies, hopes and fears for women characters and female-led narratives in film in order for women to have a bright future in the world of cinema.
I whole-heartedly agree.
—Che Grayson (https://vimeo.com/radiantchild)
Announcing the Bluestocking Film Series 2016
Audience Choice Award Winners!
Friday Evening Shorts Program Winner
Three Women Wait For Death, directed by Isabelle Sieb
Saturday Afternoon Youth Screening Winner
Q.U.E.E.N., directed by Brittany Fennell
Saturday Evening Shorts Program Winner
Split Costs, directed by Jeffrey Blake Palmer
THANK YOU TO OUR WONDERFUL AUDIENCES FOR VOTING THEIR FAVORITES AND FOR MAKING THE 6TH ANNUAL BLUESTOCKING FILM SERIES THE MEMORABLE, WARM, AND WELCOMING EXPERIENCE IT WAS!