CREATIVE PEAKS: A Lens for All

By on May 9, 2017

Film festival this week highlights collaborations and female filmmaking finesse.

Stills from some of the films featured at the film festival Through Our Lens:  How Did I Get Here, The Trees Don’t Talk Anymore and  Forward.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Since the Academy Awards’ inception in 1929, only four women have been nominated for best director. Only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has won an Academy.

For such an old, and frequent, celebration of the arts to only recognize one female director in its history is “mind boggling,” said local filmmaker Lina Collado. It’s also indicative of a historic and cultural erasure of females in film. Collado said that despite the sheer quantity of talented female filmmakers, “we don’t always get the spotlight.”

“There are definitely female filmmakers,” she continued, “but unfortunately, when you ask for famous directors, you don’t really hear female names.”

Collado hopes to bridge the gap between talent and recognition at the Center for the Arts Thursday. She says her film festival, “Through Our Lens,” is a celebration of gender equality in filmmaking. Rather than focus exclusively on female filmmakers, Collado says the evening celebrates the power of collaboration between talents of all genders.

“I think the power lies in the collaboration between female and male [filmmakers],” Collado said. “I think that’s where you create really good work.”

Collado dreamt up the event after asking JH Wildlife Film Festival director Lisa Samford about opportunities to screen Collado’s own film, The Trees Don’t Talk Anymore. Samford suggested hosting an event focused exclusively on female filmmakers. “The problem is when [Samford] gave me a few [filmmakers] to contact, they were all male and female teams,” Collado said. The director of Collado’s own film, Kyle McBurnie, happens to be a man. “I couldn’t go and act like the film was mine, when it was done equally by myself and Kyle,” Collado said. “There was kind of a moment where I realized this was the perfect opportunity to show how beautifully collaboration works when it’s done correctly.”

While gender equality is the celebration of the evening, the films themselves are drawn together by a different theme: the human experience. Each film explores the variety of ways humans interact with the world, and “how human beings act when a certain situation is presented to them.” In Collado’s film, she documents the experiences of native communities in Manu National Park in the Peruvian Amazon. The park is one of only five national parks in the world that allows people to live inside of it. But, Collado said, living in a national park comes with its own unique challenges. On the one hand, conserving the land is important. On the other, Collado said, strict rules and regulations are seriously damaging to the cultures of people that live there.

“Being able to juggle life inside a national park that dictates how you should live your life is very hard,” she said.

Orijin Media’s film Undiscovered Guyana, on the other hand, illustrates the importance of conserving water sources for communities in a small coastal South American country.

Local alpinist Julia Heemstra appears in front of the camera in her film Equal Footing. The film follows Heemstra and Kim Havel as they climb through the Wind River Range, and explores what it means to be female in a male-dominated landscape.

Since no Jackson film festival would be complete without a ski film, professional skier and model Sierra Quitiquit will screen her film How Did I Get Here. But Quitiquit’s story is about more than just skiing. In her film, she grapples with complicated family dynamics, love, loss, and resilience.

Quititquit will also screen Forward, a film she and local filmmaker Phil Hessler made at the Women’s March on Washington. While How Did I Get Here is about finding her voice, Forward is about using it to demand change.

Finally, JenTen Productions will preview its film Hearts of Glass, which follows the vertical greenhouse Vertical Harvest through its first year of operation.

After the screenings, filmmakers will take to the stage for a Q&A with moderator and local filmmaker Lori Roux. At least one or two questions, Collado said, will be about gender equality in film. Filmmakers will then gather in the lobby for a meet and greet with the audience.

To inspire young and aspiring filmmakers, the Center for the Arts gave 100 free tickets to students who might not afford tickets, “but are interested in visual storytelling or filmmaking,” Collado said. The Learning Center, One22, Teton Science School, Jackson Hole Community School and the Doug Coombs Foundation all received tickets to give away to their students.

“The purpose is to instill a passion, or cement a passion they might already have,” Collado said. Good storytelling, she added, knows no gender or socioeconomic status.

“Anyone that has a story can make it happen. You just have to collaborate with the right people.”

Successful collaborations, Collado explained, really strengthen the story you’re trying to tell. “It creates equality that I think is the mission of this event. An equal standpoint in storytelling creates something extremely strong.” PJH

Through Our Lens, 7 pm. Thursday, May 11. $10; $8 for students with a valid ID at JHCenterForTheArts.org.

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