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This film festival is the most unique, inspirational and crucial festival out there, and the women of Stephens are truly blessed to be such a substantial part of it. Citizen Jane features the best of these women who work so hard to get their names in out in a male dominated industry. Citizen Jane administers them a voice in this male dominated industry. This festival gives credit to numerous talented independent filmmakers and showcases their beautiful, conceptual and ingenious masterpieces. Hopefully one day I will be amongst these women.
Being from Columbia, I had heard a bit of what Citizen Jane was about but it wasn’t until last year that I truly got the full experience. I was a senior in highschool who had just finished working as an extra on the short film I Am One directed by Steph Borklund, who happened to be one of the volunteer coordinators, when I started getting emails about volunteering at Citizen Jane. With my new found passion for movies, I decided it would be a good opportunity to get to see the festival life. I signed up and became a part of the merch crew, unfortunately I had gotten into a car accident days before the festival and was only able to make it to one of my shifts, but that was enough. Even though merch wasn’t the most exciting or inspirational, I fell in love with the atmosphere of the festival. It felt like somewhere I belonged.
This year my luck with volunteering was also terrible, but I was able to make it too a panel called “The Stories We Tell”. In this panel 4 directors, with films at the festival, talked about how they got into making movies, what inspired them and various other questions from the audience. I was mesmerized, each of the women had such interesting opinions on various things. The panel made me realise that making movies was possible. When you go to see a movie you never really think about the director, they are just a name on the screen who made something magical happen before you. Getting to sit down with some of these ladies opened up a whole new world, it made the movies more tangible, you end up having a deeper connection to the movie after learning what went behind it. Many of the women on the panel said things that have stuck with me, one being “…it was filling my bank account but it wasn’t filling my heart.” Patricia Krenwinkel, director of Life After Manson, said this as she was talking about how she moved from studio work to doc films. I think it resonated with me so much because of the fact that nowadays so many people are so obsessed with getting money that they end up in situations where they hate what they are doing, and her being a woman and dropping everything to go after what she loved was truly inspirational. Another thing I absolutely loved was the collaboration between Leah Meyerhoff, director of I Believe in Unicorns, and her lead actress, Natalia Dyer. She said that she had an idea of where she wanted to go with the film but it wasn’t until she had found her lead actress that the pieces fell into place, and that Natalia inspired the film just as much as her own mind. I think collaborations between actors and directors to make films is an incredible one because then its not only “the directors film” but a little bit of everyone goes into it. If I am ever graced with the opportunity to be a director or actor in a film this would be the relationships I would aim to have.
Next year I plan to volunteer, knock on wood. I would love to help out in any way I can, this festival is ran almost solely on the work and hours put in by volunteers and I believe what you put into it you get out of it, and then some. The movies are the main focus, but if I could give any advice to festival goers it would be to do the extra stuff. There is where you truly learn the most and experience the true essence of the festival. As a filmmaker in training showcasing my work at Citizen Jane would be an honor, I would love to have an impact on a young girls dreams as some of these women have done for me.
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