It’s a known fact that mainstream Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity and who’s is allowed recognition for their work in the director’s chair. And while Indiewire writes that we’ve seen “historic highs” when it comes to the representation of female filmmakers in the industry, it is still largely only within the independent market. A lot still needs to be done in terms of bridging the gender divide across the board (both mainstream and indie) and The Big Muddy Film Festival wants to be apart of that solution.
From animated tales of the friendship between a young girl and her robot to stories on social and climate justice, the female-helmed projects at The Big Muddy Film Festival demonstrate that women have a voice and deserve a space to tell their tales. As a salute to all the female filmmakers whose films have a home in this year’s festival, here is a list of all the female directed work that you should add to your viewing list when the schedule drops at the end of the week.
Directed by Lizzie Germann
Told through vignettes, two grown sisters come together on Christmas Eve nights throughout the years, where their shared histories and secrets demand to be heard.
Lost in Place
Directed by Morgan Holub
A young girl and her pet robot go on a journey, physically and emotionally.
Directed by Carmen Rachiteanu
Jo is a janitor in a school at night. Like many people in the art, his story goes unnoticed. Woman of convictions, she assumes her “bugs” from the past for the two most important women of her life: her daughter Karine and…Diane Dufresne.
Without a Scratch
Directed by Samantha Farinella
Without a Scratch is an experimental short documentary that takes the viewer on the journey of the queer filmmaker’s experience with a pituitary tumor, exploring the interconnectedness and complexity of healing, memory and love.
Directed by Mary Sette
After being kicked out of her house, a troubled young girl wanders from parking lots to strange couches in hopes for a place to sleep
Directed by Carla Forte
Two stories are narrated in the midst of demanding rehearsals in total isolation: The creation of a character, and the daily lives of those involved. Psychological abuse and mistreatment by the director, end up bringing the actress to the point where her deepest desires merge into the character she represents: the rabbit.
Co-directed by Xiyan Wang
Hello Chicago is a letter to the city Chicago which has been adapted into the shape of the narrator’s hometown. A sense of nostalgia is reinforced as the audience experience the season of winter and summer in Chicago with the narrator in this short film. After we leave our hometown, we no longer experience new cities. We only relive a mirage of our memory.
King of the House
Directed by Zige Zhang
A delusional man lives alone in a small dark house, believing that he is the king of the world and his supremacy is secure. However, his sovereignty is shaken by the arrival of a stranger. Little by little, this intruder occupies his living space, forces him to face his inner fears, cowardice and inferiority. Eventually, he realizes the great king he conjured in his tiny kingdom, is nothing but a pitiful tramp to the rest of the world.
A New Deal for Public Art in the Free State
Co-directed by Kara Heitz
This film explores Kansas history and identity during the Great Depression and New Deal era through the stories of the post office murals of Kansas. What subject matters did Kansans feel represented their communities? How did local communities in Kansas react to and interact with these artworks when they were first installed? Whose voices are represented by these artworks and whose voices are missing? What was the importance of the artist in this process? And what do these artworks say about Kansans’ identities both in the past and in contemporary times?
Love Boat: Taiwan
Directed by Valerie Soe
Love Boat: Taiwan looks the Taiwan Love Boat, one of the longest running summer programs in the world, where college-aged Taiwanese Americans get closer to their history, their culture and each other. A recent New York Times article lauded Taiwan as a new bastion of free speech in Asia, but because of the ongoing cold war between China and Taiwan, Taiwan’s status as a sovereign nation is anything but secure. Love Boat: Taiwan explores the ways that this unique “soft power” program advances the cause of Taiwan around the world.
Directed by Ayda Alimadadi
Iran, is a middle aged widow who is stalked by a memory from her deceased husband. Overwhelmed by the grief of his absence, she is led to an act of fierce melancholia in order to cope with it.
One of Many
Directed by MJ Bernier
A collection of powerful individual voices is documented in the short film, One of Many, reminding us of the anger, distrust, heartbreak and hope that merged together on January 21, 2017 at The Women’s March on Washington.
Memory VII: Satellite Cities
Directed by Gloria Chung
“Hello. Pyramiden-1 was the prototype satellite city. Now largely abandoned, it serves as a tourist destination and stopover in the growing network of satellite cities.” Video clips taken during trips and on my commute home have been reimagined into a science fiction narrative, ruminating on cities, signs, and architecture.
Directed by Rebecca Shapass
Inspired by Betty Crocker’s marketing strategy (developed by Freud-devotee Edward Bernays) to have housewives “add an egg” to their cakes, Eggless is a meditation on fertility through the lens of eggs as a symbol of rebirth, a commercialized object, and a diet staple.
Directed by Marziyeh Riahi
According to the laws of Iran, Bahareh must have her traditional, chauvinistic husband accompany her to driving lessons so she and her instructor will not be alone.
Directed by Aislyn Murray
Two sisters distance themselves after the loss of their mother, resulting in the eldest attempting to fill this role despite her fears. Adrift is a short experimental narrative that questions what it means to be a mother.
Directed by Kate Renshaw-Lewis
Dinner Time is a hand-drawn animation about the power dynamics within a hyper-nuclear family. This film focus is on the identity of the housewife and the impact of gender roles on the child.
Co-directed by Asuka Lin
Winter Terrace follows three wandering, hungry souls amidst Tokyo’s unseen silent nightfall. This short film explores the landscape of the historical Asakusa district through the eyes of three outsiders who eat, drink, and play from another dimension. The narrative is a parallel to how Asian American diaspora culture paints our experiences in what the “motherland” seems to us.
In Sickness and in Health (but mostly, Just In sickness)
Directed by Sarah Trad
In Sickness and in Health (but mostly, Just in Sickness) explores the difficulties of seeking companionship while faced with mental illness, codependent tendencies and metaphysical crisis. The title, partly taken from traditional marriage vows, highlights the optimistic decision to bond while many of the works represent realistic, minute and awkward attempts to connect. These works are part of a decade long series of the artist’s, which explores the disjunction between subjective and objective realities.
In the Wake
Directed by Natasha Nair
A portrait about traditional handloom weavers of Kerala India, and their resilience in the face of cultural displacement, consumerism and forces of nature.
O Hunter Heart
Directed by Carla MacKinnon
Nature and domesticity collide in a dark take of love and loss
Directed by Sarah Kanouse
Grassland excavates the layers of belief, ecology, practice, and materiality that underlie a working landscape on the Colorado high plains.
Co-directed by Laurie Little
From his darkroom and streets of Lyon, France to the Illinois country side, photographer/umbraphile, Richard Bellia chases the 2017 eclipse with daughter Valentine . This short film reflects on the creation of images and the passion that drives their making. In French and English
Oh My Homeland
Directed by Stephanie Barber
In 1985 the great soprano Leontyne Price sung the title role in Verdi’s Aida as her farewell opera. After the ‘O patria mia’ aria, the audience breaks into applause. ‘Oh My Homeland’ is the third in a series of minimal single shot 16mm films I’m currently building. It’s a film about representation, art, and material exchange. It’s a film about endings. It’s a film about identity, love, power, patriotism and the transcendent potential of art through the viewing of a face receiving adoration. A minimal gesture akin to the practice every portrait painter or mother recognizes as ineffably powerful.
Oh My Homeland, while being simply a shot of Ms. Price’s face as she receives the applause and before returning to the role, expands with the unaltered meditation on the shot. The transformational power of art for society and the maker alike; the implication of Ms. Price’s race and the context to which she dedicated her life; the staggering political implications of the Verdi aria (a mournful and complicated love letter to Aida’s homeland) in a time in which love of country is hard to muster.
Directed by Sinah Ober
A military trauma surgeon and his twenty-something son take the ashes of their deceased wife and mother to Treeline Lake, a place she loved. Against his father’s wishes, the son creates a podcast about the experience that he hopes will advance his career as a radio journalist. This is the story of their last trip as a family.
Directed by Katie Haug
Combining a philosophical framework of Walter Benjamin with her present day production of political ephemera, the filmmaker/artist examines a circular nature of history and her identity as it evolves within the context of contemporary politics. A collage of internet imagery and personal reflection, Post-Election Works becomes a dialogue between the online, digital archive, activism and the narrator’s subjective experience.