By Leah Curney
On May 7th, New York Women in Film & Television hosted a virtual panel discussion with filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, creators of the hilarious new documentary, Call Your Mother, which explores the relationship between comedians and their mothers. The panel also included two of the comedians featured in the film, Judy Gold and Bridget Everett, and was produced and moderated by NYWIFT board member Terry Greenberg.
A comedic writer and performer myself, I was thrilled to attend the event. To be expected, you get this many funny ladies in a room (even a virtual one), and you’re bound to have plenty of laughs. However, there were many poignant and surprising moments throughout the conversation as well.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes and top takeaways from the event:
- Both performers in the panel described the empowering nature of comedy and being on stage. Judy Gold shared, “I was very bullied as a kid and I think having control of the laughter was big for me. I wasn’t being laughed at, I was making them laugh… this was my space, this was my home.”
- Both performers also addressed how much they miss performing for a live audience, now that COVID-19 has brought public gatherings to a halt. Technology may allow us to stay connected, but nothing comes close to the real-time energy and feedback of performing live stand-up comedy, they lamented.
- Both the performers and the filmmakers spoke about how their moms, born just a few generations earlier, had far fewer life and career options than they did. They spoke with appreciation of the sacrifices their mothers made, and the ways their moms inspired and influenced their senses of humor.
- Filmmakers Heidi and Rachel pointed out that at some point in the film each of the mothers expressed a similar sentiment about their comic daughters, “She’s doing what I wish I could do.”
- When asked whether the filmmakers thought to include comedians who didn’t have good relationships with their mothers, Heidi and Rachel were quick to respond, “Of course!” Seeking to capture depth and diversity in their film, they approached a number of comedians who had challenging or strained relationships with their mothers… but all of them declined to participate. Apparently it was just too painful.
These are a few of the highlights from the panel, but you can watch the full recording, and hear these talented women in their own words, on the NYWIFT Facebook page:
You can also hear an interview with Judy Gold on a recent episode of NYWIFT’s Women Crush Wednesdays podcast. Click below to listen and subscribe:
Welcome to NYWIFT, Toby Perl Freilich! Toby is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and writer, focusing on cultural reporting. Her work explores all sorts of perspectives, from senators to artists, spanning across the world. She co-produced and co-directed Moynihan, a film about the late New York senator, policy expert, and public intellectual. She also directed, produced, and wrote Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment, about one of the world's longest running and most successful experiments in radical, secular communal living. Right now, she is producing and directing I Make Maintenance Art: The Work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles about the pioneering ecofeminist and the first Artist in Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation. Read about Toby’s inspiring past and future projects here!READ MORE
Finding your tribe is one of life’s greatest pleasures—and losing it is one of the greatest sorrows. In NYWIFT Member Amy Nicholson’s beautifully observed film Happy Campers, working-class Americans gather every summer at a seaside trailer park in Chincoteague, Virginia, to enjoy the simple pleasures of a scrappy, no-frills vacationland, and each other’s company. When a developer buys the land and reimagines the property, the inhabitants of this shabby Shangri-La wistfully eke out the joys of one last summer together as a melancholic twilight hangs in the air. Happy Campers just made its world premiere at DOC NYC, where it received a Special Mention for the Grand Jury Prize. Amy spoke to us about her unique process making this film, biggest challenges and triumphs, and the commodification of some of life’s simplest pleasures.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Melisa Ramos! Melisa is a filmmaker and professor from Puerto Rico, bringing 14 years of post-production and motion graphics experience to New York. Her first production, Puerto Rican Voices, a docu-series about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Following Puerto Rican Voices, Melisa continued to share Puerto Rican and Latin American stories. In 2020, she directed and produced From Performers to Spectators, a doc-series showcasing New York City performers during lockdown. She is currently in production on Hoop Warrior, her first feature film. Read all about Melisa’s journey as an editor and artist here!READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Aisha Amin! Aisha is an NYC-based writer and director. As a director, her work expands across narrative, documentary, and experimental forms to tell authentic stories built from real experiences. Her past film projects have explored and highlighted overlooked communities particularly in New York City, including formerly incarcerated mothers and communities struggling with the presence of gentrification in their neighborhoods. Amongst her directing, Aisha is an emerging screenwriting and was selected to participate in Cine Qua Non’s 2022 Screenwriting Lab. She is a 2022 recipient of NYFA’s Tomorrowland Grant and a 2021 recipient of the NYFA Women's Fund grant. She was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Sally Burns Shenkman Woman Filmmaker Fellowship at the Jacob Burns Film Center where she directed two short documentaries. She is also a recipient of The Shed's Open Call Fellowship where she expanded her film practice to installation art. Aisha spoke to us about her favorite styles of storytelling, the intersection of narrative and documentary, and her latest projects.READ MORE