Homegrown films like “The Midnight Swim,” set in Spirit Lake, and groundbreaking indie films like “Daughters of the Dust” are marching alongside such heavy-hitters as “Bend it like Beckham,” “Lost in Translation” and “A League of Their Own” during Women’s March at FilmScene in downtown Iowa City.
The monthlong initiative showcases films made by women — every day on every screen in every program — from Grindhouse horror/thrillers and Bijou programming to experimental films and family fare.
“Quite a few factors came into the birth of this program,” Rebecca Fons said. She became FilmScene’s programming director in early November, “as the hammer was dropping with Harvey Weinstein, and the #timesup movement was coming to the light,” she said.
“People had been talking about the pay disparity and harassment and the disrespect of women in Hollywood for a while, so that was in everyone’s mind.”
Celebrating female filmmakers seemed like the best way to respond to the industry issues, as well as showcase the way FilmScene “prioritizes highlighting minority voices,” which includes female filmmakers, she said. “And we like the challenge, too.”
Putting together what amounts to a mini film festival is second-nature to Fons, who spent 10 years working with the Chicago International Film Festival. “I think some of my muscle-memory influenced the way I programmed it,” she said. “We have all the programming that we always have at FilmScene, we’re just filling it with female filmmakers.”
Some are Iowans, others are new voices “making waves,” pioneers “who burst on the scene,” or those who make culturally relevant films. Subjects vary, too, and include stories about men, trans women, Latina women in prison, and classics with crossover appeal, like “Clueless” and “Lost in Translation,” Fons noted.
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Conversations are part of the programming, as well, featuring panel discussions and Q&As with some filmmakers in person or via Skype.
One of those coming to town is University of Iowa graduate Kelly Gallagher, an experimental filmmaker, animator and assistant professor of media arts at Antioch College in western Ohio. She will discuss and show her short films March 17. She also will conduct a two-day spring break animation camp from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 15 and 16, for girls and genderqueer youths ages 11 to 13. (Details at Icfilmscene.org/series-special-events/)
Another special event is a March 25 conversation with Des Moines native Ann Hornaday, chief film critic at the Washington Post. She will discuss her new book, “Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies,” and offer her perspective on Hollywood, and what’s happening on-screen and behind the scenes. Tickets are $30, which includes a copy of the book.
With more than 40 films in the schedule, Fons said the eclectic series offers “something for everybody.”
She’s also excited about cross-promotions in the area, from stores donating a portion of sales to FilmScene to Revival clothing boutique creating window displays a la “Clueless,” “A League of Their Own” and “Daughters of the Dust,” the film that inspired Beyonce’s video album, “Lemonade.”
Fons is thrilled by the show of support.
“It helps us feel like we’re really doing the right thing by female filmmakers and the community at large,” she said.
WHAT: Women’s March
WHERE: FilmScene, 118 E. College St., Iowa City
WHEN: Today (3/1) to March 31
TICKETS: Varies with each movie; at the door or Icfilmscene.org/series-special-events/
FEATURES: Movies by female filmmakers, some with panel discussions or postshow Q&A sessions
WORKSHOP: Spring Break Animation Camp for girls and genderqueer youths ages 11 to 13, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 15 and 16, $200, partial scholarships available, Icfilmscene.org/series-special-events/
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SPECIAL EVENT: Des Moines native Ann Hornaday, chief film critic at the Washington Post, 4 p.m. March 25; $30
TICKETS: FilmScene Box Office or Icfilmscene.org/series-special-events/
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