S.W.A.N. Day Screening and Reception: Girl From God’s Country


Join NYWIFT, SAG-AFTRA, the School of Visual Arts Film Department, Women Make Movies, Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, African-American Women in Cinema (AAWIC) and HerFlixat the SVA Theatre on March 25th for a screening of the documentary Girl From God’s Country: The History of Women in Film and Other War Storiesby director Karen Day in recognition of S.W.A.N. (Support Women Artists Now) Day, an annual event on the last Saturday of March that celebrates women artists. There will be a Q&A and reception following the screening.


Bessie Coleman Dream to Fly
Leslie Harris (Director)
1994, 8:21 mins.

Photo Credit: Mel Wright

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American Woman to receive her pilot’s license in 1921. A trailblazer, Bessie was born to a family of sharecroppers and became a pioneer in aviation. In 1993, feature film director, Leslie Harris was selected to produce a short film for Showtime Networks during Black History Month. Harris suggested the story of Bessie Coleman. In 1993, Bessie was not given the honors she deserved I wanted to pay tribute to such an accomplished and courageous woman in American History. In 1995, Bessie Coleman was honored with a commemorative U.S. Stamp by the United States Postal Service. In honor of what would have been Bessie Coleman’s 125th birthday, Google celebrated the pioneering aviator with a Google Doodle. Harris has been working on getting Bessie Coleman Dream to Fly onto the big screen.

Photo Credit: Erwin Wilson

Writer, director, producer and executive producer, Leslie Harris’debut feature Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (Special Jury Prize Winner, Sundance Film Festival) has had numerous screening and honors throughout the world’s top film festivals including Tokyo, Cannes, Toronto, Deauville, Burkina Faso and Italy. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. was distributed in 20 countries worldwide. The feature received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Debut Performance by a Lead Actress. Harris has received the IFP Gotham Award Open Palm, American Film Institute Filmmaker Award, National Endowment for the Arts Grant, ABC/DGA Directing Fellowship and Showtime Award for Excellence for the short Bessie Coleman Dream to Fly which was broadcast on Showtime Networks in 1994. Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to receive an international pilot’s license two years before Amelia Earhart. Leslie Harris’ next feature is the sexy, provocative and very political satirical comedy I Love Cinema.

Tess Reese (Composer) of “Treasury” is a singer/songwriter who has worked with a variety of world class performing artists. In the mid-nineties, she headed her own twenty-piece Big Band, Tess and The Swing Daddies, conducted by the great late Frank Foster. Tess wrote the theme song for the Showtime Award for Excellence short, Bessie Coleman Dream to Fly. She also headlined at Carnegie Hall in George Wien’s sold out Billie Ella, Sarah, Carmen headlined the opening of The Q Jazz Club inside the Cirygan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, played The Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy and many other festivals throughout Europe, Asia, the Caribbean. She has several unreleased original recordings and enjoys quietly contributing to musical projects as a way of life, minus the pretentiousness of the music business. TREASURY is her latest band. Expressions of Indigenous blues/rock/jazz… and FREEDOM!!!

Girl From God’s Country: The History of Women in Film and Other War Stories
Karen Day (Director)
2016, 66 mins.

Girl From God’s Country is the untold story of the first female independent filmmaker and action-adventure heroine, Nell Shipman (1892-1970), who left Hollywood to make her films in Idaho. An unadulterated, undiscovered adventure tale of a pioneering woman who rewrote the rules of filmmaking, and, in so doing, paved the way for independent voices – especially prominent female voices in today’s film industry. Her storylines of self-reliant women overcoming physical challenges in the wilderness and often, rescuing the male lead, shattered the predictable cinematic formulas of large studio productions. Featuring rare archival footage by early pioneers, including minority filmmakers, Zora Neale Hurston and Miriam Wong, the first Chinese-American filmmaker in 1914 and present day interviews with Geena Davis and the Director of Women in Film, Girl From God’s Country discuss how gender-inequities that Shipman and her counterparts faced perpetuate in today’s film industry. Emblematic of an entire lost generation of female producers and directors in silent film, Nell Shipman’s legacy has remained a buried treasure in film history for nearly 100 years.

View the trailer

Karen Day is a journalist prone to dangerous enthusiasms. As a photographer, filmmaker and writer, her career has included house arrest in Myanmar, lunch with Dr. Anthrax in pre-war Baghdad, fashion reprimands from a warlord in Kandahar and happy hour with the Dalai Lama in Manhattan. Wary of overly-earnest appeals from rock stars, politicians and Sally Struthers, her professional pen and camera focus on the human element in every story, whether the subject is war-torn refugees or Hollywood celebrities. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, she has reported on Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, Myanmar, Rwanda and South Sudan for numerous national publications, including Newsweek, O: The Oprah Magazine, Elle, MotherJones.com, Body and Soul and the Los Angeles Times. Her independently-produced news features from Iraq have aired on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, and BBC. Day is co-producer and host of the award-winning television series on Plum TV, Women with a Cause and the documentary, Ethics and the World Crisis: Conversations With The Dalai Lama. In 2016, she was contributing author of Silent Women: Pioneers of Cinema. Partnered with Marie Clairemagazine, Day founded Afghan Women’s Justice Project which continues to raise awareness and funds to provide literacy teachers and defense attorneys for Afghan women and children imprisoned for moral crimes.

Photo Credit: Ellen Tejle

Jan Lisa Huttner (Moderator) is an award-winning American film critic and feminist activist. Huttner has been a longtime contributor to Chicago’s JUF News and authored many columns for other publications (including the Huffington Post). She manages two blogs. One, The Hot Pink Pen, is devoted to reviewing films by women filmmakers. The other, Second City Tzivi, is devoted to Jewish culture. Both blogs are now found under the umbrella FF2 Media www.ff2media.com. She is the founder of WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now) and the co-founder of International SWAN Day (created in conjunction with WomenArts to Support Women Artists Now).

Special Thanks to Women Make Movies, Jan Lisa Huttner, and Showtime Networks, Inc.

The screening is co-presented by the School of Visual Arts and SAG-AFTRA.
SAG-AFTRA is a sponsor of the reception.
Special thanks to Reeves Lehman and Adam Natale.


March 25 @ 2:00pm
2:00 pm — 6:00 pm (4h)

SVA Theatre
333 West 23rd Street
(Between 8th & 9th Aves)

Free Admission

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#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.