NYWIFT Blog

Journal from the Woodstock Film Festival: Daughter of a Lost Bird

By Fran Montagnino

Woodstock, New York is an idyllic setting to attend a film festival. The 2021 Woodstock Film Festival is ongoing at the time of this writing from Sept. 29 – Oct. 4. Many of the restaurants here are vegan friendly and have outdoor seating. The artistic scene is very visible. There is a museum and galleries in the town, including the Byrdcliffe Guild, where panel discussions are held. Local musicians and drumming circles play on “The Green” in the center of the town and at local venues such as the Colony.

The film festival showcases different genres every year, hosts awards, panels, and speakers.

Still from Daughter of a Lost Bird

 

This year I headed out to see Daughter of a Lost Bird, a documentary feature at the Bearsville Theater.

The film is a poignant story about a Native woman adopted into a white family, who reconnects with her Native identity and meets her birth mother, April. We follow Kendra Mylnechuk Potter on her journey to the Lummi Nation and watch as her newly discovered relationship with April develops amidst the history of the Lummi tribe.

There are various creative achievements in the film. The hug between April And Kendra is most notable and deepened by the subtle beat in the background, creating an emotional and quiet poetic moment. The intercutting of black and white archival footage from the Lummi people along with the dialogue of April and Kendra deepens the emotional effect of the film and history of Lummi tribe. The consistent use of close-ups throughout the film visually enhances the relationship the viewer experiences with Kendra and April, as well as our understanding of the Lummi people.

April Kowalski and Brooke Pepion Swaney
(photo credit: Fran Montagnino)

 

The cinematography, editing, and musical composition interweave deftly throughout the film, which was directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney, an NYU alum. The film, along with Swaney, her creative staff, and April Kowalski received a standing ovation at the Bearsville theater screening I attended! They were on hand afterward to answer audience questions, and April Kowalski standing next to Brooke Pepion Swaney told the audience this was the first time she had seen the film. She also said that it was an unbelievable honor to be in the place the story was told. It was an emotional moment for both attendees and filmmakers.

I walked out of the theater, took off my mask, took a deep breath and walked across the parking lot to Nancy’s of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery, where I had a delicious almond milk cappuccino.

 

Brooke Swaney received the New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) Award Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking for Daughter of a Lost Bird at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival. The NYWIFT Award for Excellence in Narrative Filmmaking at Woodstock went to Rachel Winter for The Space Between. NYWIFT Board Member Kim Jackson presented both awards in person at the festival’s closing awards ceremony.

Learn more about the Woodstock Film Festival at https://woodstockfilmfestival.org/

PUBLISHED BY

Fran Montagnino

Fran Montagnino Fran Montagnino is a writer, producer, creative consultant, and an American dreamer – and potential host – who has been part of the vibrant cultural landscape of New York for many years. Her academic background is in Television and Film. She is a summa cum laude graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and has studied at Columbia University. She has worked on and been associated with various projects in both fiction and non-fiction genres and is currently working independently on treatment ideas for television and film.

View all posts by Fran Montagnino

Comments are closed

Related Posts

Crystal R. Emery: Exposing Racism in Healthcare as America’s Most Lethal Pandemic

What makes COVID-19 even deadlier? Racism in medicine. NYWIFT member Crystal R. Emery’s documentary The Deadliest Disease in America traces the history of racism in American health care from the brutal medical experimentation forced upon enslaved peoples to the modern-day inequity in fatality rates and access to treatment experienced by people of color during the pandemic.

READ MORE

Helping a Mentee Spread Her Wings

Each and every individual whom I’ve mentored has been special—and I’m proud of them all in what they have achieved; however, one mentee and her achievement in particular stands out for me. Her name is Sophie Meissner and her achievement is a short film called, Keep Your Head Up, Sweet Pea!

READ MORE

The Dilemma of Desire Empowers Women through a Greater Understanding of Their Sexuality

Maria Finitzo's film "The Dilemma of Desire," a documentary about female sexual desire, was difficult to pitch and sell because, according to Finitzo, “People were afraid of it, they think it's about porn or are worried they're going to see people having sex." Instead, the film delves into the essential, surprising, and often sad truth about most women’s understanding of their own sexual desires and their own bodies.

READ MORE

S. Casper Wong on Her Filmmaking Journey: Global Peace Film Festival

NYWIFT Board Member S. Casper Wong is an award-winning New York-based filmmaker, technology lawyer, social entrepreneur, activist, and Founder of OO Media. She is also the founding chair of Asian American Women Media Makers and is on the board of directors at NYWIFT, leading the innovation initiative. She recently spoke to Global Peace Film Festival about her 20-year journey in filmmaking.

READ MORE
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
css.php