By Margarita Sophia Cortes
Jennifer Reeder is an award-winning filmmaker who is best known for her short films, including Blood Below the Skin (2015), which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival, and A Million Miles Away (2014), which was celebrated at the Sundance Film Festival.
Reeder’s narrative feature debut film, Signature Move, premiered at 2017’s SXSW Film Festival, where it was nominated for “Gamechanger” award. It received the Grand Jury Award for “Outstanding American Narrative Feature” at L.A. Outfest, and Reeder took home the “Best Director Award” at FilmOut San Diego. The film was featured as “one of the 50 most anticipated American films of 2017” by Filmmaker Magazine.
This multi-cultural romance about life, love and lady Lucha-style wrestling is opening in NYC this Friday, October 13th. We caught up with Jennifer Reeder as she heads to Friday’s opening screening event to get her perspective on breaking down doors.
It’s something that I’ve been aware of for quite a while, in terms of casting or who I want to write a story about or who I want to put in front of my camera because that’s their story but also as a form of social justice. We made a commitment to have lots of women behind the camera. It wasn’t just me as a director. The first assistant director was a woman, there were two female producers, the art department was all women, the makeup department was all women, the camera department was women. The amazing Indian cinema legend Shabana Azmi, who plays ‘Parveen,’ made a point to say, ‘This set feels different with all of these women in front of and behind the camera.’
There was so much scrutiny on Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman but it held up under such a different kind of microscope than Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America or any of these other superhero movies, and I love that it obliterated the box-office worldwide. If we continue to be vocal in demanding equality, studios are going to start giving female directors these jobs because they’ll be tired of getting so much shit about it. They’ll be like, ‘fine, find a woman to direct this film.’ They should be like, ‘Awesome, she’s a great director, let’s give her a chance on this,’ but if they’re simply responding to a backlash, that’s fine. I don’t care how the door opens, I’m just like, ‘open the fucking door.’
I am fascinated by how particular and precise our coping mechanisms are as humans. There are so many films that get it wrong, especially when it comes to how women respond to trauma. We’re so used to seeing a woman who turns into a raging bitch or is just crying all the time. In real life we do the most beautifully strange things, and trauma can be quite a small thing for some people or a catastrophe for others.I have never made a film that is about masculinity, so I’m curious about that. I have three young sons so I’m surrounded by a lot of boy energy. I owe it to them to make a film that has a lot of that masculine energy, but also that comes from my perspective as a feminist filmmaker. With fire and explosions and car chases… Let’s do it!
Signature Move (Newcity) is directed by Jennifer Reeder, co written by Fawzia Mirza and Lisa Donato and stars Fawzia Mirza and Sari Sanchez. The film opens in New York City at the Village East beginning Friday, October 13th.
Many children – and more than a few adults – dream of long-distance space exploration. But what about the real human toll of that kind of journey? The new documentary The Longest Goodbye, which debuted at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, takes a poignant look at the fundamentals of day-to-day reality in space: the isolation, confinement, and lack of privacy and social contact. Executive producer Valda Witt spoke to us about the project, her childhood dreams of space travel, favorite moments making the film, and getting to know scientists and astronauts in a deeply personal way.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Caitlin Gold is the Co-Founder and Co-Head of Film, a private equity fund dedicated to financing narrative and documentary films directed by women. The fund’s tagline is “Films by women make more money, but Hollywood isn’t making them….” Thanks to Gold and her colleagues, that very well may change! Their most recent feature is the Australian film Shayda, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the World Dramatic Competition and won that category’s Audience Award. Gold spoke to us about Shayda’s path to the screen, funding work by women, and what’s next on her horizon.READ MORE
Developed in partnership with Sundance Institute and Founded by Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph and Head of Film Candice Wilson Cherry, WOMEN WRITE NOW is a comedic writing fellowship designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy through mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition. Now in its second year, this year’s fellowship brought in three emerging writers, Mayanna Berrin, Kianna Butler Jabangwe, and Danielle Solomon to develop and produce their comedic short scripts under the guidance of some of the most influential Black women in comedy. The resulting projects were then brought into production by Hartbeat studios. Cherry and the writers spoke to us about their experience.READ MORE
Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment presents the “Indie Director’s and Creator’s Spotlight” in celebration of diversity in filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival 2023. Featuring a day of education, industry networking and panels, its evening activation will transform into a Neo Soul lounge with the sultry sounds of 3x Grammy Award-nominated R&B/Neo Soul Singer Angie Stone as the headliner.READ MORE