Tag Archives: Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival

The Film Festivals and Such

by Gail Mooney
March 25 2012

I’ve attended two film festivals to date: The San Luis Obispo Film Festival and the Los Angeles Women’s Film Festival. I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to have a film in a festival, especially so late in my career. As I write “late in my career” there is almost a disconnect. That may be others’ perception of me but for some crazy reason, I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, in many ways I feel like it’s just the beginning.

“There’s a time for everything” That’s what Dr. David Mar Naw told Erin and I that rainy day we interviewed him in a bamboo hut in a remote hill tribe village in northern Thailand. It seems like a lifetime ago that we met Dr. David, yet it was but a year and a half ago. Had I known that this project would have consumed my time – and me – the way it did – well, let’s say I might not have started it. Yet I did start it, perhaps because I felt that this was the time in my life to do something like this.

Last night the film screened in Los Angeles and it was close to a full house – a few empty seats here and there. There were a lot of friends and colleagues there last night, and even someone I hadn’t seen in 30 years. And to top it off, Gina Low, one of our subjects was in attendance with lots of her family and supporters of Apeca. I hadn’t seen Gina or Pablo since we left Peru in August of 2010. For me, that is the best part about festivals – sharing my film with friends – new and old. That’s why I made this film – to share – not just the film but also the message behind it of what one person can do to make a difference in the world.

After our film screened, there was one last film that night – “Gloria”, a movie about Gloria Steinem. The film was fascinating, a combination of present day and past interviews of Steinem along with lots of historical footage and photos. Even though Gloria has more than a decade of years ahead of me, I vividly remember that period of time in the “women’s movement”. I attended at least two marches that showed up in the film, as a young college aged woman of the time. That era had a profound effect on my life. I had always questioned “fairness” even as a child and when I came of age as a young woman during that time in history, I had little tolerance for people who told me I couldn’t do something because I was a woman. I vividly remember feeling during that period in time, that as a woman, I had been born at just the right time. A time of change.

It’s never easy to be on the forefront of change and yet it seems to be the pattern of my life. So maybe now, during this time of “change”, this is my time to begin yet again another new chapter of my life. I was interviewed last night and was asked two great questions that were easy for me to answer:
The first was “What got you through it” (meaning the journey).
I answered, “The people, behind these stories, they were incredibly inspirational”.

And the other question, “Did making this film change your life?”
My answer “Yes, in every way imaginable – but I knew that it would.”

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem

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Never Ending Circles

by Gail Mooney
March 19 2012

This morning is one of those mornings that I can’t seem to get focused.  My mind is spinning in a hundred different directions.  There have been too many times in my life when I’ve woken early, not able to sleep because my mind is too active. I’ve learned to “manage” my active mind with meditation, so that I can “turn off”, but I haven’t quite mastered managing my dreams and last night they were vivid, making my mind a virtual circus this morning.

I’m headed to the West Coast this week to attend another festival that our film has been selected by, The Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.  I’m looking forward to this festival for a couple of reasons.  For starters, Opening Our Eyes will be one of the “featured” films, but perhaps more importantly, it will be a unique experience for me to be part of a festival that is dedicated to women filmmakers.  I’ve spent the better part of my professional life in a man’s world.  Still do to some extent, so it will be a treat to speak with other women who are doing similar things that I am.

When I was at the SLO Film Festival last week, I had the opportunity to see an absolutely wonderful documentary called “Who Does She Think She Is?”  The film follows a number of contemporary females artists who were working in film, visual arts, and music.

Renoir's Studio, France

These were women of different ages, races, geographic locations who were all working in the “arts” and struggling to “get noticed” in the “top” echelons of their prospective fields, which were predominantly male.

They were also struggling to find a balance between their passions (their art) – and their families and personal life. I think most women, regardless if they are working in the arts, can relate to the constant struggle of balancing what they give of themselves to their family – and to what is calling out to them, inside.

The film brought out something very interesting –  in ancient times the arts were predominantly female – the goddesses at work.  Somewhere along the timeline of the ages – women dropped out of sight in terms of being high profile in the arts world.  What top artists’ names instantly pop into your head?  Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Michelangelo, DaVinci?  All male. Nowadays, even though statistically there are more women working in the arts than men, there are few female artists at “the top.”

I sometimes wonder, why the tables are tilted gender wise, in regards to “worth”.  Is it because women, especially women my age, still somehow feel, that when they pursue their dreams so intensely, they often run the risk of compromising their personal life and relationships? I know I have felt the “norms of society” passing judgment on me at times.

I’m not sure if I will ever be “the norm”, nor do I think I will ever want to be.  Half the time I don’t even take notice of things like that because I’m so caught up in pursuing what it is I feel I just have to do. It was very clear when I was at the SLO Film Festival last week that I was certainly not “the norm” as far as “indie filmmakers” are concerned – a group that is mostly “30 something” males. No doubt, I will be more of “the norm” at the LA Women’s FF this week, but then again I probably won’t even think about it.  I’m just doing what it is I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life.  Or at least that’s what my inner voice keeps telling me.

Everyone asks, “What’s next?”  I do have a “what’s next” project in my mind.  But I’m not quite ready to abandon this one yet.  One young filmmaker told me last week “You never really finish a film – but you do get to a point when you can let go of it and move on to something else”.  That time is coming – I’m feeling it.  But right now, I’m not ready to let go of this one – the circle is not yet complete.

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“The Happiest Place in America”

by Gail Mooney
March 6 2012

Did the title get your attention? I’m not surprised. Aren’t a lot of Americans interested in knowing where the happiest place in America is? But what about the people who live in the happiest place in America and aren’t happy?  Wow – it must be awful to know that even though you live in what is deemed the “happiest place in America” –  you still aren’t happy. Happiness isn’t about the “where” as much as it is about the “is”. What “is” right for one – “isn’t” right for someone else.

Regardless, tomorrow I’m boarding a flight to a place that has been called the “happiest place on Earth”, San Luis Obispo, CA. San Luis Obispo has already made me happy. Our film has been selected for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. I’m quite psyched about the whole thing. I admit it. It will be a first for me – having a film in a film festival. What an honor it is to bestow on a project that I have put my heart and soul into for more than two years.

It will be fun, with all sorts of festivities planned. One particular event that I am really looking forward to is the screening of Citizen Kane at the Hearst Castle! It’s the first time this film will be screened at the castle and one of William Randolph Hearst’s grandsons will host the evening. I am a huge “old movie” fan – always have been even as a little kid, so this is right up my alley. There will be lots of celebrities there but I will be more enamored with the historic attributes of the night – than the glam.

Festivals are definitely an ego thing. But they also bring awareness to films, which is the whole reason filmmakers make them, especially documentaries. Why make films if no one sees them? It’s a great opportunity to get audience feedback too. One of our subjects, Gina Low will be there too, which is wonderful. She’ll be in attendance for another festival that we have been invited to later in the month, The Los Angeles International Women’s Film Festival. It’s a competitive business, getting into festivals, so I will cherish every minute of both experiences.

This is the fun part of the process of making a film, seeing it screened in a theatrical setting and dialoging with the audience. The payback, after so much hard work. I am “happily” heading out the “happiest place on Earth” and get to share the experience with my wonderful team – my daughter, my husband and my special friend Angel.

I’m already happy and I haven’t even gotten there yet.

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