The SCAD Savannah Film Festival has always offered a diverse perspective in its line-ups. This year is no different, with a particularly strong focus on women in filmmaking highlighted by feature films by new and established directors and the return of the Wonder Women panel series.
“The Wonder Women Series has been a staple of the festival for three years,” said Christina Routhier, executive director of SCAD Theaters and Festivals. “We showcase the best and brightest veteran and rising women artists in the industry from directors, writers, and producers, to editors, cinematographers, and production designers. As a University run film festival with an enormous amount of female students in the Entertainment Arts, it is important to showcase the breadth of opportunities given to women in film today. As the entertainment industry continues to focus on giving more opportunities to women in film, we feel honored to give our students and patrons the opportunity to learn from their peers.”
Besides the individual panels devoted to directors, producers, writers, and below-the-line creators, festival audiences will get to see some incredible new films by women filmmakers.
“Mickey and the Bear,” which is about a young woman who must take care of her veteran father who suffers from trauma and addiction, is directed by actress Annabelle Attanasio who left a plum role on the CBS series “Bull” to pursue her passion for making movies.
“It was not calculated,” said Attanasio of the transition from acting into directing. “It was something that just rose organically.”
Attanasio had been workshopping the script for years before finally receiving financial backing for the film and having full creative control to tell her story. She plans to continue pursuing directing future projects and putting her acting career on hold.
“I definitely feel very lucky to be coming up in this era and am so inspired by women who have been fighting this fight for decades, who came way before me.,” Attanasio expressed. “I think women my age who are coming up as directors are really grateful to the path that have paved for us, for the writer and directors who were doing this back when there was only room for one. It’s amazing to me that now there is room for all and it doesn’t have to be me versus you, it doesn’t have to be my ‘woman’s issues’ film versus yours. It can be both. I think this is a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go at the same time."
Another festival highlight by women directors is the surreal comedy “Greener Grass” by directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. “Greener Grass” is a bizarre peek into anxiety-ridden suburban soccer mom culture that often feels as much like a horror-thriller as a comedy.
“Jocelyn and I both grew up in the suburban midwest as middle children,” said Luebbe. “I think a lot of our inspiration came from things we witnessed in the suburbs growing up, in particular the idea of people being very, very polite at all costs. We had a lot of fun thinking about what it would be like if we took this idea of politeness to the extreme.”
Luebbe and DeBoer built their working relationship through four years in the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York. “We were always drawn to each other and our sense of humor,” said Luebbe. “We really gravitated towards comedy and drama of the mundane and domesticity.”
“Greener Grass” draws inspiration from the films of David Lynch, John Waters, Tim Burton, and Luis Buñuel. “The list that we think of as filmmakers that we align with doesn’t really include woman that work in that kind of tone of dark comedy and absurdist, surrealist things,” said DeBoer. “We’re absolutely certain there are women directors that do and have exceeded, but it’s much more common for men. We’re honored that we can be the faces of, I suppose, a new generation female directors working in the comedy space.”
DeBoer continued, “If we have success with this film or our next film, as we rise in our careers it would mean more than anything to us in the world to start shepherding the careers of other female directors, particularly being able to give them complete control.”