“When we’re talking
about issues of
gender equality and representation,
I think it’s an everybody problem.”
Executive Director, Amy Guth
For the first time in its history, the Midwest Independent Film Festival will screen a juried selection of work during the annual Female Filmmakers Night celebration, which takes place Tuesday August 7th at Landmark Century Cinema.
The evening program includes U.S. premieres, Chicago premieres, animated shorts, thrillers, and docs (see listing below), and the award for the best submission will be presented by an honorary chair of the jury who has been confirmed but shall remain nameless until the gig actually goes down.
Dating back more than a decade, Female Filmmakers Night is an honored tradition that highlights films created by women from Chicago and the Midwest. According to MIFF’s new Executive Director Amy Guth, the decision to judge this year’s submissions of shorts, docs, and feature excerpts is a reflection of the festival’s continued commitment to the community.
“We really wanted to very thoughtfully curate a group of women in leadership roles in Chicago film to serve on this jury for the first time ever on Female Filmmaker Night,” she says. “I think it’s just a way of elevating and celebrating the event a little more and adding another dimension and layer to this night and really involving more members of the community in creating it.”
The eight-person jury (pictured above) includes: Erica Duffy of Camera Ambassador; Marina Killion of Optimus; Diane Quon of Kartemquin Films; Amy Guth of Midwest Independent Film Festival; Jan Hieggelke of NewCity; Melissa Barany of VML; Chakka Reeves of Free Spirit Media; and Orianna Oppice of Women in Film.
Guth describes the group as “women in film leadership roles in Chicago who are doing awesome things,” but is quick to point out that their efforts will benefit the entire community.
“When we’re talking about issues of gender equality and representation and things like that, I think it’s an everybody problem,’” she explains. “We all have to show up and do that work and have that conversation and be in those spaces with each other.”
Underscoring her opinion is the fact that women’s issues have become a daily part of our national conversation. The reality extends to this year’s Female Filmmaker submissions in a way that Guth finds exhilarating.
“We’re having conversations in a lot of industries about how different groups are being treated and does everybody have a seat at the table,” she says. “I think that’s really exciting that we’re in this moment of change and, even though moments of change are sometimes chaotic, I think they’re important to be in and important to embrace.”
Although Female Filmmakers Night occurs only once every year, MIFF has always supported women at its First Tuesday events and other celebrations.
Female actors, crew, filmmakers, and writers dominated last year’s Best of the Midwest Awards. Previous festival screenings include a number of female-made films that have come to be regarded for their compelling stories and groundbreaking innovation. Among them are Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move (directed by Jennifer Reeder, written by Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza); The View From Tall (directed Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss, written by Caitlin Parrish); and Hidden Tears: Tanya (directed by Monica Raymond, written by Sam Forman).
Together with Female Filmmakers Night, MIFF’s year-round celebration enhances the same community-building commitment that has inspired the festival since 2004.
“There’s a lot of stuff for everybody,” says Guth. “So let’s show up and support each other.”
MIFF Female Filmmakers Night
The Chicago Premiere of Kailyne R. Waters’s animated short about a shopping cart’s search for meaning, The Go Cart;
Ashley S. Brandon’s documentary short, Mickey’s Pets, following a young woman through the competitive world of taxidermy;
Stephanie Jeter’s short, atmospheric thriller, Searching for Isabelle;
Emma Keehan’s experimental short Ouroboros;
The Chicago premiere of Miranda Johnson’s animated short looking at fear and coping surrounding Macular Degeneration, De-generate;
The experimental short Atoms of Ashes directed by Maggie Scrantom;
The U.S. premier of As of Now, a short film examining partner violence on college campuses, written and directed by Moira Hamilton;