Updated: Jul 29
The 4th annual Monmouth Film Festival (MFF) is excited to announce that it has received more submissions from female directors this year than any before! There are over 100 shorts and features to see, but with seven out of nine films from their NJ HS Student Showcase being shot through the eyes of young women it seems easy to predict that these numbers will only continue to rise with each generation.
Many of the MFF interns, past and present, have mentioned the commonality of uneven ratios of females to males in their production classes. Women, although welcomed, are rarely encouraged to take classes where they are learning what goes on behind the scenes as much as they are to read their lines and smile pretty.
However, this festival and many others that now thankfully exist strive to embolden women to speak up and share their perspectives in any area from crew to creation. It is crucial for women, especially those of color and in the LGBTQ+ community, to be at the forefront of their own stories; the good, the bad and the funny. Women every day are crushing the stereotype that their films are “chick flicks,” made solely for females and men are beginning to cast women in roles that are more than just the wife or mother who move the story along. At the end of the day, a good film is a good film. This festival hopes to provide a diverse and inclusive platform for everyone to experience together while connecting people with other creative minds.
There are so many incredible shorts to look out for this August, but below are some to get you started.
Ballet After Dark tells the story of a young woman who found the strength to survive after an attack. She created an organization that is helping sexual abuse and domestic violence survivors find healing after trauma through dance therapy. Writer and director B. Monét is a Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation grant recipient and was named the 2017 Horizon Award Winner.
Edgecombe is a documentary about Edgecombe County, a predominantly African-American agricultural community in the eastern region of North Carolina. Like many communities in the historic South, there are remnants of chattel slavery and monuments to civil rights struggles. Director Crystal Kayiza not only studied filmmaking, but also African American and women’s studies. Additionally, she worked for the ACLU focusing on the racial justice program, as well as other policy and advocacy work.
Feathers introduces you to Elizier, an emotionally-dejected new enrollee at The Edward R. Mill School for Boys. He must overcome memories of a tragic past and the present hazing by his peers in order to tackle larger issues dominating his young life. Writer and director A.V. Rockwell has been mentored by some amazing ladies, like Rashida Jones and Jenni Konner. This production was funded with a grant awarded by Tribeca Film Institute, CHANEL and Pulse Films, via the Through Her Lens Women's Filmmaker program.
HEROINES follows Nina, a young introspective girl blossoming to understand the world. During a babysitting session her crass middle-aged neighbor explains to her, through twisted allegories, the world of intimacy and love. This dramedy was created and directed by Katia Badalian, and written by Sara Jane Bower.
HOT DOG is a foreign film that takes you on a comedic journey with Hannah, who wasn't always happy about the existence of her 'Vajayjay'. She's in a love-hate relationship with her vagina and chronicles how her feelings towards her sexuality have changed over time. It was written and directed by Alma Buddecke and Marleen Valin in Germany and has been nominated for multiple awards.
Liberty is a narrative about Alex and Milagros as they deal with great life upheaval and the disappearance of a loved one’s memorial all while preparing to dance at their community’s redevelopment groundbreaking ceremony. This coming-of-age drama, written and directed by Faren Humes, has won multiple awards for Best Short at various events. Humes was also named one of Miami’s Top 100 Creatives by Miami New Times.
Misdirection follows Camila, your average college freshman with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a big, gay crush on her roommate. After both situations come to a head in a near car crash, Cam is stuck trying to find a distraction. A chance encounter with a street magician teaches her to channel her misguided energy into a new hobby, and to open her heart to new possibilities. Writer and director Carly Usdin is an award-winning filmmaker based in LA. She created this film as part of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women and is currently developing several other projects through her production company Scheme Machine Studios.
Now You Know is a coming-of-age dramedy about an uninhibited 10-year-old girl that faces the fallout from flashing her class at her strict Catholic school. Writer and director Molly Gillis is a Willard TC Johnson Award Winner and a New York Women in Film and Television scholarship nominee.
The Clinic is a documentary about a needle exchange and a free clinic, amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, operating in the shadows of Fresno, California. Director and producer Elivia Shaw has worked on Emmy and Academy Award-winning television series and feature documentaries for National Geographic, HBO, PBS and more.
The Cricket King of Queens, directed by Hannah Keyser, documents an immigrant-heavy Queens community, where the best high school cricket team in the U.S. chases an unprecedented perfect season while navigating an increasingly intolerant culture.
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