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.
Cynthia Lowen’s latest documentary "Battleground" offers an eye-opening window into the anti-choice movement, featuring three women from varying walks of life who have dedicated themselves to rendering abortion illegal. Per the Tribeca website: “Told with restraint and balance, director Cynthia Lowen seeks to clarify rather than condemn, and presents a new point of entry for this challenging topic.” While the film itself clearly aligns with progressive pro-choice advocates (who also appear throughout) it offers a fascinating perspective on the sheer systemic power of the anti-abortion movement and the perilous future, felt painfully today, of Roe v. Wade. "Battleground" was Executive Produced by NYWIFT member Ruth Ann Harnisch and co-produced by member Steffie van Rhee, who sat down with us to discuss the premiere and how this film – from this particular perspective – came to fruition.READ MORE
Violet Du Feng’s "Hidden Letters" tells the story of Chinese women trying to balance their lives as independent women in modern China while confronting the traditional identity that defines but also oppresses them. Connected through their love for Nushu—a centuries-old secret text shared amongst women—each of them transforms through a pivotal period of their lives and takes a step closer to becoming the individuals they know they can be. Hot off her 2022 Tribeca Festival premiere, Director Violet Du Feng, an Emmy-award winning documentarian, spoke to us about Nushu, modern-day China, women’s equality, and her filmmaking process.READ MORE
Signe Baumane’s "My Love Affair With Marriage" is a brilliant animated film for a decidedly adult audience. It’s a semi-autobiographical musical exploration of love, sex, romance, and gender as viewed through the lens of neurochemistry – not your average animated love story! New York Women in Film & Television was proud to present Baumane with a NYWIFT Ravenal Foundation Feature Film Grant for the film, and even prouder to then see it premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Festival! We sat down with Signe to discuss her wildly inventive, intelligent, and very fun film.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Petra Terzi is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning film producer. She has produced concerts, performances, and film festivals with an emphasis on cultures, human rights, and the arts. Get to know Petra and her work in our latest Member Spotlight!READ MORE