Some pics from our day out in the beautiful Wilmington.
Remember how I was invited to Visions Film Festival & Conference in North Carolina with Period Stories? I decided to make a whole trip out of it and ended up travelling two weeks on the east coast. I just got back and thought I'd introduce you to some of the many choice people I got to meet and the cool things that they do.
New York / Charles
I made some new friends in NYC such as the amazing illustrator/children's book author C.G. Esperanza who just published his first book, Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, too!). Definitely check out his work. As a day job he teaches art to kids – yes, he's that annoyingly awesome of a person. You can buy his book at least on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
We bonded over our mutual admiration of THE BERN & Charles took me to a couple of vernissages in Chelsea. I went a little crazy over some shiny sculptures.
Providence / Sarita
After NYC it was time to go hälsa the cutest girl alive / one of the stars of Period Stories, Sarita, in Providence, Rhode Island. If you've seen the film, her story is the one with the tampon and the fishing... I STILL can't watch that story without cringing a little and I've seen it about a 100,000 times.
Anyway, you may have heard of Rhode Island School of Design, or Risdi, as they call it. So get this: they only take in 1 or 2 exchange students from the entire world to the architecture course and Sarita got in. So definitely be on the lookout for what she does in the future. Her work is very politically conscious and centered on how city planning and architecture can bring about social change in cities. Much smart this one is.
We were supposed to go to a party the night I was there but we ended up just drinking wine and talking all night. I snapped a picture of Sarita in the morning. I still can't get over how amazing her place was. #palettegoals
Philadelphia / The Tampons
I went to Philly to meet up with a family friend who just started at Penn last fall. I got a little tour of the University of Pennsylvania campus and took this picture in front of what are referred to as "The Tampons". Bit of a must-do for a period documentarist.
Washington D.C. / Giovanna
First of all, D.C. was amazing. So far it's my favourite American city. Although, that may have been influenced by the fact that I got to stay with the amazing Giovanna Chesler. I'd first met her back in June when I was in NY for the Unmentionables Film Festival. Her documentary, Period: The End of Menstruation? (2007) was screened there – great film by the way, you can watch it on Vimeo on-demand. She's also the producer of the recent, very important documentary, Out in the Night (2014). The film is about a group of African-American lesbians who were attacked by a man on the street. The women defended themselves and ended up being charged with gang assault and attempted murder.
When I got to Giovanna's place she asked me why I was in the States. I told her I was invited to this undergrad film festival, and she immediately went, "Oh, Visions? Some of my students and faculty are going there!". Turned out Giovanna is the head of the film and video studies program at George Mason University in D.C. which is a partner school of UNCW which organizes Visions. What are the odds...
Giovanna is currently working on a feature narrative which I'm sure will be huge, so stay tuned for that.
And finally the main event...
Wilmington / Visions Film Festival & Conference
Where to even begin... I'll just start off by saying that this was definitely the best film festival that I've ever had the honour to attend. The students of UNCW film department had worked so hard to make sure the festival was the best experience for everyone as it possible could. I've hardly ever seen such a passionate and dedicated bunch. This is definitely one of those worth-the-money film festivals if you're an undergrad student. Massive thumbs-up.
I couldn't have felt more welcomed when almost all the people I met from UNCW immediately knew who I was and all about my film. This is because the students watch, discuss, and critique all the films relentlessly in class when determining which ones to screen. And it turned out Period Stories had caused quite the debate... #notorious
But enough about Period Stories, I want to tell you about everyone else. I thought I'd do the same thing I did with the Hanko Film Festival post and tell you about the three films/people that I liked best and that somehow stuck with me the most.
1. The Bumblebees (dir. Sebastian Sdaigui)
TW: Violence & sexual harassment.
This one was my favourite from the entire festival. It's Quentin Tarantino – only better. I wouldn't call it a feminist film but the acting is phenomenal. Also, the director, Sebastian Sdaigui, is an absolute legend and the chillest dude ever. Most people who do amazing shit have zero chill but Sebastian is different – he's the epitome of chill. Actually, come to think of it, maybe he was just really high the entire time?
Anyway, I just looked up his bio and damn....
"Sebastian Sdaigui is a director/writer who graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, with a BFA in Film and TV. Prior to NYU, Sebastian served 4 years in the United States Navy. While at NYU Tisch, he surpassed expectations and received a variety of awards and recognitions. Sebastian was recognized as one of the Top Transfers of NYU, selected as a winner for the New Visions and Voices Festival, along with The Niklas Kalborg award. Sebastian also received NYU's most prestigious filmmaker award, the merit-based W.T.C Johnson Fellowship, a full tuition scholarship only awarded to 1 student per year."
So yeah. Great things to come from this fella for sure.
2. Jaclyn Gramigna
Ahh, Jaclyn... Jaclyn was the keynote speaker at Visions. She is also the first person to have won the Visionary Award at Visions five years ago. In her talk, she somehow managed to address practically every single important issue in the film industry today as well as all the growth-pains related to becoming a creative. Her speech was educating, informative, and inspiring all at once. There was talk about it being made available online, and I sincerely hope that that happens. I'll be sure to link it if it does.
I'd love to quote her here but I was too in awe of this queen to take notes... Sorry. Here's her genius and hilarious documentary "selfie", Alone in Bed, which is basically Jaclyn filming herself in bed while her beau is out of town for 20 days. Brilliant.
Love her as much as I do yet? Yeah, thought so.
She runs her own production company Whippersnapper Films and is currently working on a feature. Here's her 2-minute short about, ehm, female sexuality, that was screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner.
3. Everyday Heroes: The Story of Dr. Hooves (dir. Caleb Ennis)
This film was the last film screened at the festival and was definitely worthy of the closure spot. It also won the Audience Choice Award. I got to talk to Caleb Ennis and Emily Rayl of the crew at the after party, and they were just the sweetest people. Thinking about it now, I feel like this film actually has a lot of Caleb's persona in it. His kind, humorous and laid-back vibe with a dash of quirk has really transferred onto the film.
Watch it on Vimeo:
There was also a film called Thrash (dir. Zach Bailey) that I really liked but there's not much about it online yet. It will be released on Zach's Vimeo page eventually, though. My favourite scholar was Kyle Turner who spoke about toxic masculinity and queer theory in his presentation, Wish I Were Special: Gay Panic, Masculinity, and the Queer Other in Creep and The Gift, using Creep and The Gift as examples. I talked to Kyle a little at the after party, and he too was the most genuinely nice person. It was no surprise that he won the Audience Choice Award in Scholarship at Visions.
Now, I know most of you who read this didn't actually watch any of the stuff embedded because we're all such busy bees these days. But really, do yourself a favour and take the time to watch at least one of the films I linked – I promise you it'll be worth it.
All in all, what a great festival, what a great trip, and what great contacts I made. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE VISIONS HAPPEN. You are all legends.
P.S. Since I couldn't include everyone in this post, here's a list of all the films and presentations at Visions6. Check 'em out, y'all.