Alexandra Hidalgo: Feminist Visionary

During a recent conversation with filmmaker, teacher, activist, & visionary Alexandra Hidalgo, I had a chance to ask her about the incredible work she’s doing to move us forward in our understanding and practice of feminist filmmaking. She is involved in many different projects.  We moved from topic to topic, becoming deeply engrossed.

I hope you find the discussion invigorating and informative.  I have to say that after the conversation concluded I realized we hadn’t even talked about her new film, which screens at Capital City Film Festival in Lansing, MI tonight!  So before diving into the conversation, please enjoy this trailer of Teta, the story of Alexandra’s journey nursing her youngest son, Santiago, for twenty-two months.Continue reading →

Iram Parveen Bilal: Minimizing Us vs Them

Iram Parveen Bilal (Courtesy of Dustin Snipes)

“In a nation divided by fear and ignorance, it is imperative to tell stories that build empathy through understanding; to fight against the reduction of nuanced realities to tweetable bites.”

#DirectedbyWomen had a chance to chat with independent filmmaker Iram Parveen Bilal recently to talk about her work and the campaign underway to fund her feature film Forbidden Steps, “a uniquely Muslim-American story of patriotism and the right to pursue the American dream.” The crowdfunding campaign is live now on Seed&Spark.

DBW: Iram, in these volatile times you label yourself a Filmmaker | Activist and describe yourself as a “Physics Olympian turned filmmaker.” What kind of impact are you hoping to make in the world? How has switching from science to film helped you realize your vision?

IPB: I want to engage people in conversations of universality, empathy, survival and the commonality in being different. I want to minimize us vs them so we can unite and face the challenges of a world getting more complicated and warmer by the minute.Continue reading →

Jessiline Berry: Yes is YES

A Night to Remember

Filmmaker Jessiline Berry took time this week to share about her new film project A Night to Remember, her personal experience of sexual abuse, and her decision to utilize her skills as a filmmaker “to do right by [her] survivor sisters.” I hope you’ll read what she has to say, back her film project, and pass the word.  Let’s help get her film made and out into the world.

DBW: Jessiline, I was so moved by your Kickstarter video where you describe your film A Night to Remember, talk about the devastating impact of date rape, and convey the importance of getting this story out into the world. What inspired you to create this film and who do you hope will see it?

JB: Violence and abuse have, unfortunately, been significant in my history. I could say I’m a strong woman now in spite of it, or because of it. But as strong, smart, and articulate as I am, when it came to dealing with being date raped, I was kind of surprisingly silent. I was 29 years old when it happened. I was about to finish my masters at an Ivy League institution. I had been in therapy to deal with the trauma of an abusive marriage. I had overcome. I started dating again after my divorce, and met a nice guy who took me to nice meals, and movies at the Magic Johnson theater, and eventually raped me. And I was like…how did I miss this…how did I misjudge this man? I thought I should’ve known better. At the time, I spent way more energy blaming myself than blaming him. I remember I didn’t even tell my therapist because we were wrapping up our time together because I had done so well, and the trauma of my abusive marriage was basically behind me. I was embarrassed to tell her I had been victimized again.Continue reading →

Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir: A call-­to-­action

DBW: What moved you to create your documentary Prison Dogs about prison inmates, who train service dogs to support veterans with PTSD? What’s at the heart of the film?

GG: We were looking for a prison reform story. This story resounded with us because it really focused on second chances, not just for the men who were incarcerated but for the veterans too. That the vehicle was something you wouldn’t think of — a puppy — for healing and for the inmates to give back and the veterans to regain their lives — was a full story.Continue reading →