Cheers to BABES FEST '17. With 52 acts in three days, this festival was stacked with an unmatched array of talent in comedy music and film. Thanks to you, #wedidthat.Read More
Yola Lu embodies comedic life. Fingers always in many pies, Yola experiments with all types of comedy, from sketch to improv to stand-up. But being funny isn't her only dream; she also wants to give a voice to other Asian American comediennes (and a laugh to their audiences).Read More
Francine Thirteen is a mythmaker and music is her medium. Proprietor of the "ritual pop" genre, the Dallas native uses feminine energy to birth music into the world, telling stories that work with ancient female archetypes to reclaim what was once meant to control us.Read More
Megz Kelli, talented rapper and face of Magna Carda, reveals what it means to be a female voice in a male dominated industry, as well as how she integrates her personal and professional life.Read More
Jinni J is an Austin-based photographer with an eye for the beautiful. Armed with a camera, she is always ready to dissect what it means to be feminine, to perform, to be of a certain gender. Her recent foray into filmmaking, as co-director for the music video of Monte's "Naive", has also been a huge success, as it premiered on Creators. You can also catch it at BabesFest!
Read more to learn about the woman behind the lens.
What do you look for in a shot? On the reverse, are you always looking through a lens, and does that ever get tiring?
Usually I'm looking to strike a balance between elegance and asymmetry. I am often scheduling shoots but as long as I am mindful of when my creativity and energy needs to recharge it all works out, at times though I’ll overbook myself I think I secretly enjoy burning my wick at both ends. I never really get tired of it though, I get more tired of not creating.
How do you find creativity in photography?
I am a person that kinda has too many feels. Sometimes I'm a little overwhelmed with how much beauty I see. I’m constantly inspired, it’s just a little more difficult for me to zero in on something.
How do you build good relationships with your models? Also, if you could photograph anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be?
Many of my “models” are more like my “muses”, many of them are my friends so there is already comfort and intimacy in that. Lately people have been reaching out to me via Instagram and its such a nice way to instantly see what a person is into, that when we finally meet in person it always feels like we’ve hung out before. Instafriendship! :)
Who would I photograph? I’ve been asked this a ton and my answer always changes based on what I'm really inspired by in the moment. Right now I am looking back at my family and I would love to have been able to photograph my Lebanese grandmother every 10 years of her life. She had seven children, made all of her clothes, and was the quintessential hostess with the mostest. She lived to be 92. Other than that Grace Jones would be lovely to shoot.
I just watched the video you directed for Monte’s Naive. It was incredible! Do you find yourself shifting in the direction of filmmaking?
Thank you so much! It’s funny, for a long time video was just something I assumed I wasn’t capable of doing or even playing a part in. Then I released myself from that doubt and now lately I've just been imagining all things in motion. The idea of having to capture movement was overwhelming and intimidating, I was comfortable in the static frame and now I am feeling limited with stillness. More video projects are currently in the works!
What’s the funniest moment you’ve experienced during a photoshoot?
Oh goodness! I have a notoriously awful memory, each shoot is always a giddy time. But I’d say a silly thing that happened when I was shooting for Raw Paw’s Alien Zine, I was on a construction site with my friend and the model, Jamaica, using my car headlights for the shoot and once we wrapped the shoot and tried driving out of the lot we started to realize my an industrial nail punctured my tire. So it was like 4am in a neighborhood that didn’t really exist yet on the map and had to call tripleA with my friend cover in gold paint and glitter and blue lipstick. It was pretty ridiculous at the time but afterwards we had a good laugh about it. Then that image ended up getting posted all over town and on billboards through Austin Art Boards. WORTH IT!
In "Jackson," her first feature length film, Maisie Crow tells the story of Mississippi's last abortion provider and gives viewers insight into the subtle tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers that further women's reproductive health choices. Catch the film at BABES FEST '17: Film on July 28.Read More
Meet Andrea Zarate: co-founder of Alt-Girl Cinema, activist for women of color, filmmaker extraordinaire. Then come meet her in person at BabesFest Film on July 28!Read More
Raised here in Austin, Texas, artist Alesia Lani imparts a soulful sound and emotive songwriting on a creative community that — for all its live music — could step it up when it comes to R&B.Read More
Nikita Redkar is a writer omedic expert proficient in all media of humor. #BossBabesATX staffer June had the opportunity to interview her ahead of her performance at BABES FEST 2017. Check it out!Read More
Meet Femina-X, an alternative, Latin band that fuses progressive tribal and ethnic dance, jungle, and Caribbean influences. Then come see them at BABES FEST 2017 happening July 27 - 29, 2017.Read More
We're back again with the rest of the interview with Kate Tolo and Connie Saltzman of Project: Girl. Last time we talked about creative input and film as a creative medium. This time, #BossBabesATX staffer June Chee opens the floor to talk about fears, inspiration, and what you can expect from the great babes of Project: Girl.
Read below for great words of wisdom:
5. Who inspires you? Who inspires your work?
Kate: Oooo I love Puberty Blues, an Australian TV show about going through adolescence in the 70's
Connie: Ah! I love Lena Dunham and the last season of Girls--her candidness and honesty is inspiring. Also, the film Moonlight really stuck with me--I was inspired by how the drama never felt added or unnatural. We were simply following a boy through his life and experiences and the power of somebody's personal story is what carried everything.
6. What scares you? Did you have any concerns or unexpected setbacks when creating Project: Girl?
Kate: Ahh something that scares me is that I don’t want a girl to watch one of our episodes and not be able to relate to it at all--I recognize that I am Western and white, and my upbringing can be completely different to someone on the other side of the world--or even just in another neighborhood. Something we talk about a lot is making sure we reach out and bring people into this project who are able to provide completely different perspectives and stories.
Connie: Yes, definitely what Kate said. We get the importance of diversity and we want to bring in as many different perspectives as possible, so it’s always a concern. Girlhood is not one thing. Other than that, the setbacks have just been learning curves: financial, and trying to figure out how to fund the series, how to create the connections so that the series will be seen by as many people as possible...
7. What do you see as the final outcome of Project: Girl? Will it ever be finished?
Kate: I love this question. I want to see a database of women’s stories that is a new resource for girls to comb through when they feel alone in their experience. Aaaanndd I hope there’s never an end.. It would be great for eventually the community we’re building to take it on themselves.
Connie: Oh! So much, but I try not to get ahead of myself. I really love the structure of our films--each one based on a true story, following one girl, and under 5 minutes. I would love for there to be Project: Girl groups in schools and organizations around the country so girls and women can be collecting and sharing their own stories and making their own films. What that would hopefully lead to is Project: Girl screenings and film festivals with talk-backs and amazing female-empowered sponsors and prizes and conversations about girlhood and what it means to be a girl!!! How fun would that be!
8. Where can people submit their experiences to Project: Girl?
Connie: We've been collecting stories from girls and women and have written 10 scripts based on the stories we've received. We shot two of those scripts, and are currently fundraising to shoot the rest of them.
Kate: Stay tuned for our story submission area on our website that we're working on--in the meantime, please email (projectgirlseries @gmail.com), facebook message, instagram direct, or bling our hotline. We are also always looking to expand our team, so please connect if you want to be a part!
And if you're in NYC this coming week, you can check out Project: Girl's launch event this Thursday, June 1. We highly recommend!
Tickets and more information available here.
Last year, at #BABESFESTNYC, we met Kate Tolo: designer, techie extraordinaire, all around Boss Babe. Together with director Connie Saltzman, this dream team created Project: Girl, a new film series about girlhood and identity. And this year, on June 1st, they will be hosting an all-female showcase of storytellers, followed by a screening of their first two films.
June Chee (#bossbabesATX committee member) interviewed Kate and Connie on creation, medium, and inspiration. Read Part 1 below!
1. How did you come up with the idea for Project: Girl?
Connie: I thought of the idea after the election. I was really shaken not just by the results but by the enormous gap in understanding and relatedness between people in our country. The only way I’ve ever known how to bridge that gap is through personal stories.
At first, I just knew I wanted to make a film series about small moments girls experience growing up, as a way to illuminate the complexities of girlhood. Then, as my friends and I began sharing our own stories and collecting stories from other women, it became clear this was also about dispelling shame and judgment on ourselves and on others, and creating a community to openly express ourselves and connect.
Kate: When Connie shared all of that with me I was immediately on board! I think most women hear the concept and love the idea of creating a female-focused community and story-telling platform.
2. What is the appeal to you of film as a medium of narrative? Why did you choose film for Project: Girl?
Kate: The appeal to me is 1. It’s a time where video is a really accessible media type (idk about you but I spend hours getting lost on YouTube), and 2. It’s the most relatable as it is the closest to real life… a big part of what we are trying to do is be as authentic to reality as possible.
Connie: I’ve been making and acting in films for a while. I love how you can explore a character in a nuanced, personal way that is different from any other media. Also, as Kate said, it’s easily consumable! People like watching videos!
3. How do y'all see yourselves in relation to these narratives? In other words, where does your creative vision come into play?
Kate: Something I love about Project:Girl is that my creative vision doesn’t interfere with the films/stories at all. We want the content we produce to be natural and unfiltered. I think my creative vision comes into play through solving the day-to-day problems and coming up with ideas on how we can distinguish the brand.
Connie: In directing these films, my creative vision for it is to make it feel as natural as possible - like we are just observing a moment in a girl’s life, without judgment or added drama. That’s really important, because we want to show these stories for what they are, not make anybody right or wrong, just depict an experience as complicated and unfiltered as it feels when it happens.
4. Lastly, it looks like you've got the first in-person premiere of Project: Girl coming up. Can you tell us a little bit about the event you are hosting on June 1? What can people expect to see, and what do you hope they will take from it?
Kate: If you’re in NYC, come and hear real experiences of women at our storytelling event. We’ll have comedians, storytellers and spoken word artists, along with the screening of the first two Project:Girl episodes!!!! 😍😍 I am hoping it gives everyone serious sleepover nostalgia!
Connie: Yes!!! You will leave feeling inspired, connected, and proud.
For more info on the June 1 event and to RSVP, visit: projectgirlseries.eventbrite.com
This Friday, May 5, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of Middle of Nowhere (2012), in partnership with their #femmefilmfriday series. This screening will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Dr. Lisa Thompson as well as Fatima Mann, director and co-founder of Counter Balance: ATX. Get your tickets here.
#BBATX's June Chee and Illyana Bocanegra had the privilege of hanging out with Dr. Lisa B. Thompson, one of this month's Femme Film Fridays interviewees, for an afternoon. Together, they explored questions about Dr. Thompson's life as a playwright and academic, her experience with motherhood and what it means to self-care.
(Full disclosure: Dr. Thompson is open, friendly, intelligent and amazing—we did our best to capture this for you on video.)
Watch Part 1 and Part 2 below:
You can find Dr. Thompson always posting that #goodcontent on Instagram at @theplayprof. More information about her books and plays (and publications and . . . her list of accomplishments seriously never end, y'all. #goals) can be found on her website.
You can also ask her questions yourself at The Bullock Museum's screening of Middle of Nowhere. We hope to see y'all there!
interview and text by June Chee // video by Illyana Bocanegra
This Friday, May 5, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of Middle of Nowhere (2012), in partnership with their #femmefilmfriday series. This screening will be preceded by the public premiere of Beta, a short film created by B. B. Araya, an Austin-based filmmaker. We hope you'll join us!
The following is a written interview between #BossBabesATX staffer June Chee and B. B. Araya
How did you first get started working on films? What attracts you to film as a creative medium?
The greatest independent filmmakers say use what you have and make a film in your own backyard. After watching and being enamored by film for so long, I decided to take a stab at it. In 2014, I made my first short in my own backyard. I wrote screenplays for two years before I attempted to make a film.
Something about the chaos and all of the moving parts is what attracts me to it. I also love it because it incorporates so many great art forms and if they marry properly its such a magical process to witness or be a part of.
What is something that you struggle with when trying to create?
I struggle with ignoring that voice in my head that's saying anything and everything to try and prohibit me from creating. I understand that it's just fear and if I push through it, good things ensue.
I watched Beta online on Issa Rae’s Youtube channel (it’s amazing btw!). What is the meaning behind the title?
Thank you so much! The title has multiple meanings starting with our character not being an Alpha female, but rather a Beta. We also featured a betta fish in the film which was symbolic for our main character. Like the betta, she is a loner who is not at peace with her reflection.
What inspired Beta? What usually inspires your work?
Beta was inspired by my desire to explore what it might look like to speak your truth - despite any potential negative outcome.
My work is typically inspired by my experiences or lack thereof.
Do you have a usual creative routine? If so, what does that look like? Can you walk us through the writing process?
I love to write on Saturday mornings, but it's typically not up to me when something strikes or when I'm feeling super creative.
My writing process consists of me writing something and then reworking it all the way up to being on set. It's all about finding the truth.
So I saw that you are working on a film series called "We Are". Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, of course! We Are is a narrative short film series that gives a glimpse into the lives of seven women in Austin. It stars Austin's brightest including Evelyn from the Internets, Ngozi Kim, Ronnita Miller from Beta, and so many more talented queens. It'll be released on the world wide web in Fall 2017. We are currently crowdfunding, so please donate if you feel compelled. It would make my heart do a happy dance.
If you could give a word of advice to all young filmmakers, or even to yourself 7 years ago, what would you say?
I would say make something! It doesn't need to be good - it just needs to exist.
You can find everything you need to know about B. B. Araya at her website https://www.bbaraya.com/ You can also find her this Friday at the Bullock Museum's screening of Beta.
We hope to see you there!
This Friday, March 31, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of Enough Said (2013), in partnership with their #femmefilmfridays series. After the screening, we'll participate in a group discussion with attendees about this particular movie and its role in the history of film. We hope you'll join us!
*The following piece has been written by June Chee, a #bossbabesATX staffer, on the subject of filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, the writer/director of this month's #femmefilmfridays screening, Enough Said.*
To put it simply, Enough Said (2013) is the story of a woman exploring her love life, while stuck between following advice or intuition. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the main woman-in-conflict, the film tells a story that speaks to jealousy, navigating needs, closing chapters and starting new ones.
Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said has been one of Holofcener's most financially successful films—though her films are no stranger to praise. Holofcener's works have received high reviews and nominations for numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Friends with Money and the Robert Altman Award for Please Give. However, because many of Holofcener's works feature female leads and a female-centric cast, critics regularly pigeonhole her as a "chick flick" director—going so far as to call Holofcener “the female Woody Allen."
And that’s a problem.
It starts with the definition of chick flick.
Chick flick is a slang term for the film genre dealing mainly with love and romance which is targeted to a female audience. It can be specifically defined as a genre in which a woman is the protagonist.
Holofcener’s films tell a story from the perspective of someone who happens to be a woman, exploring central conflicts that are not exclusive to women, like love, romance, tough choices, life changes, etc. Despite these rather common themes (it's well-known that women are not the only people who ever fall in love or experience drama), this somehow auto-assigns Holofcener to the "female" category.
On this same token, there's not an entire film genre dedicated to life experienced by men. Films in which men experience conflict are not called “Men-ema” or “Bro-tion Pictures.” They are just films.
So, why is “female” or “woman” a qualifier? Why do audiences need to be warned that (gasp!) a woman is going to be the star of this film?
The real question—why do we continue to consider the Male Gaze™ default?
On the surface, these naming schematics may not seem like an issue. However, they’re emblematic of a deeper problem—the dismissal of creative women in film and television. For example, in Holofcener's case: she has studied under the industry's greats (like Martin Scorsese) and has successfully produced incredible films with thought-provoking realism. And making "chick flicks" shouldn't be a dismissive thing; we should celebrate Nicole Holofcener for her accomplishments, her persistence, her experience... and her womanhood.
So, Nicole. We thank you and deeply appreciate you for creating award-worthy films from a woman's perspective. No more, no less. Enough said.
— June Chee
This Friday, Jan. 27, we'll join the Bullock Museum for a screening of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), in partnership with their #femmefilmfridays series. After the screening, we'll participate in a group discussion with attendees about this particular movie and its role in the history of film. We hope you'll join us!
Learn a bit more about the film below:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), based on the novel of the same name by award-winning author Muriel Spark, stars Maggie Smith as the whimsical teacher to a class of twelve-year-old girls. Miss Jean Brodie must navigate both her career as a teacher (constantly in tension with the strict headmistress) as well as her personal life. Maggie Smith’s rendition of Miss Jean Brodie has been described as “one of those technically stunning, emotionally distant performances that the British are so damn good at.”
Here are a few behind-the-scenes details about this movie that many miss:
1. Maggie Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in this film, and to date, it’s one of her most iconic roles.
You might recognize Miss. Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter film franchise, but her career has extended much further into the past. In 1990, Smith was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to the performing arts—she's truly an iconic performer.
2. Many of the young girls in the movie were played by much older women, and it was definitely a secret.
Most of the girls were actually just over eighteen. One woman was twenty years old—and a mother! The desks had to be raised to hide their true ages.
3. Other actresses considered for the Miss. Jean Brodie's role were Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews. Wendy Padbury was also asked to play a significant role but chose to do Doctor Who instead.
4. Don’t let this ruin the film for you, but it's rumored the film's director, Ronald Neame, never read the novel this film was based on.
5. Of the main cast, only Gordan Jackson, who plays Mr. Lowther (Miss. Jean Brodie's love interest), was actually Scottish. The rest employ fake accents.
6. Miss Jean Brodie's character was based in part on a teacher that author Muriel Spark had when she was young.
In her youth, Muriel Spark studied under Ms. Christina Kay for two years. Kay also encouraged Spark to become a writer. However, there were some oddities about her. For example, along with Renaissance posters, Ms. Kay also hung posters of Benito Mussolini and marching Italian fascists—something Miss. Jean Brodie shares.
7. In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to present.
The Bullock Museum, in partnership with #bossbabesATX's BABES FEST program, will screen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on Jan. 27, 2017 from 6 to 9 PM at The Bullock Museum. You can get your $5 ticket here (all proceeds cover screening costs). See ya then!
While we're often familiar with the feats of strong women in front of the camera, we want to give you a glimpse into the world of one woman behind it. Meet Jane Campion, a pioneer for women in film, and the director of Sweetie, which we'll be screening this Friday, Nov. 18 for The Bullock Museum's #femmefilmfridays.
Learn more about Campion:
Campion is the only female filmmaker in history to receive the Palme d’Or (think of it as the French Oscar), and the second of only four women to ever be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
She has an extensive history when it comes to performance. Born in New Zealand to a family of theatre, Campion’s family eventually founded the New Zealand Players theatre group. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology, she attended the Chelsea Art School in London and then earned a graduate diploma in Visual Arts from the Sydney College of Arts. Dissatisfied with the creative limits of painting, she turned her attention to film.
Shen started her film career with a bang. In 1986, one of her first short films, Peel, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. After Peel, Campion went on to begin a legacy of producing fantastic films centering around gender politics and the power of reclaiming feminine sexuality. She earned another Palme d’Or for The Piano in 1993, and the same film won the best director award from the Australian Film Institute, and an Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay. And in 2016, Campion was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2016 New Year Honours.
So, join us this Friday at the Bullock Museum for #femmefilmfridays and a screening of Sweetie, Campion's feature debut. The film has won numerous international awards and has been released by the Criterion Collection.
If Sweetie is your first foray into Dame Campion’s films, we hope that it’s not your last.
WHERE: THE BULLOCK MUSEUM
WHEN: 7 PM ON NOV. 18
Gilda, released in 1946, stars Rita Hayworth as the titular character, caught in a love triangle between her husband and lover. Though Hayworth had already made a name for herself acting and dancing a few movies prior, Gilda catapulted her to one of the top names in Hollywood, even to this day. The sensuality portrayed by Hayworth in the film solidified her as a cultural icon, and we will always remember her dark glamor as a femme fatale.
1. It took Rita Hayworth a couple of tries to totally become Rita Hayworth.
Rita Hayworth was born Margaret Cansino and was first contracted to 20th Century Fox. She performed in a couple of pictures before they dropped her. She changed her name, hairline and hair color (under the encouragement of her husband-manager) before she signed a new contract with Columbia Studios.
2. Before Gilda, Rita Hayworth was known for her skills as a dancer on screen.
Cansino started dancing professionally as her father’s partner at age 12. When she was signed to Columbia, she danced opposite big names like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly (and is noted for being the first of only six women to do so). Later, when Fred Astaire was asked who his favorite dance partner was, he was hesitant to admit it was Rita Hayworth.
3. Someone attempted to name a bomb "Rita Hayworth," and that really pissed Rita off.
The release of Gilda immediately followed the end of World War II and the beginning of a new age of weaponry. Scientists continued to test atomic science throughout the 1940s, and one bomb tested at Bikini Atoll reportedly was painted with Hayworth’s face and was nicknamed Gilda. Rita Hayworth was furious, and wanted to go to DC to hold a press conference, but was convinced not to so as not to seem unpatriotic.
4. Gilda has been selected for preservation by the US National Film Registry.
In 2013, the Library of Congress opted to preserve Gilda for its top-notch representation of the film noir genre, which characterized the 1940s.
5. Jean Louis, head costume designer for Gilda, also designed the gown worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy.
Louis began his career designing for major fashion houses and later went on to work for both Columbia and Universal studios. Besides the collection from Gilda, he also designed the personal wardrobes of Kim Novak, Doris Day, and Lana Turner. These costumes looked especially glamorous within the context of the fabric-rationing during World War II.
6. The iconic strapless black satin dress Gilda wears while singing “Put the Blame on Mame” is inspired by John Singer Sargent’s famous painting Madame X.
When Jean Louis was asked to explain how the dress held up despite gravity, he replied, “Inside there was a harness like you put on a horse. Then we molded plastic softened over a gas flame and shaped around the top of the dress.”
. Co-star Glenn Ford (who plays Johnny Farrell), later confessed his own love to Rita Hayworth years after the movie was released.
***Editor's note: how could he not tho?
8. At the time of filming, Hayworth had just given birth to her first child Rebecca Jean.
Louis notes that the costuming crew had to work around her post-pregnancy belly, but we choose to applaud Hayworth's post-pregnancy bod for what it represents—a badass woman managing to balance a career with motherhood, all while reclaiming her sexuality.
We’ll always remember you, Rita.
Come out to see "GILDA" on the big screen with us! On Sept. 23, we'll be joining the Bullock Museum to debut their new Femme Film Fridays, a film series highlighting the cinematic works of women, both behind and in front of the camera.
Included with your ticket is a 6:00 p.m. welcoming reception with a cash bar and a Q&A with Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle and Kathy Fuller-Seeley from the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-TV-Film department.