Tag Archives: film

Space to Roam: An Interview with Kelly Sears

Kelly Sears is one of my favorite filmmakers. Using animation as her primary medium, Sears animates cut up and collage appropriated imagery focused on American politics and culture to create interventions of the history found within each frame. In New York City this week, where Sears was in town to screen a body of her work at Anthology Film Archives, I had a chance to ask her a few questions.

Kelly Sears

Cathy de la Cruz: How long would you say you’ve been operating at the vanguard of non-commercial cinema? What lead you to begin making experimental moving image work?

Kelly Sears: I saw my first hand cranked 16mm camera at Hampshire College and just thought this little apparatus could do so much, all powered by me cranking it! Movies can be made by large teams – or movies could be made by one person experimenting and asking a lot of questions. It was the first time that making films seemed like something I could do as an individual. This was at the time where digital video was taking hold and it was all about progress and technology. I was really captured by smaller, individual experimental films I was seeing in my classes. I’d loved the abstract films, animations, essayistic work and strange narratives that were screened and I wanted to make all of the above. I also took a video class as Smith College and got my first introduction to feminist moving image communities.

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Rah! Rah! Roundup


Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore writes about why transgender troops should be an oxymoron: “What, then, would an end to the ban on trans people serving openly in the US military serve to facilitate? More of the same: endless war, plundering of Indigenous resources, both in the US and abroad, and a militaristic orientation that sees oppressed people as cannon fodder for US imperialism.”

Alice Bag discusses her new solo album with the L.A. Times: “I remember growing up and having people say that there are certain things you don’t talk about at the dinner table…You don’t talk about religion or sex or politics. Well, then I’m going to go eat on the TV tray. Those are the only things I want to talk about.”

Novelist Gabby Rivera discusses her YA novel Juliet Takes a Breath with Remezcla: “I had to do some serious soul searching and evolving in my personhood and politics. As I asked myself those questions, Juliet really came alive and the purpose of it, connecting with queer youth of color, became clearer to me.”

Fanta Sylla has created (and continues to edit) the Black Film Critics Syllabus, feat. subheadings such as “Black music video is Black cinema,” “Black women looking/looked at,” and many more.

Kathleen Hanna is featured in the new installment of Pitchfork’s Over/Under series.

Dev Hynes released his new Blood Orange record, Freetown Sound, a few days early, and you can watch the new video for “Thank You/Augustine” at his website.

Read a transcript of Jesse Williams’ recent BET Awards speech at Colorlines: “Now, this is also in particular for the [B]lack women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.”

Eileen Myles on guns and gays: “When we talk about gun control I think we need to put the focus explicitly on protecting us from us and not from ISIS. We have guns, we live here, we find it so easy to kill. Something is so very wrong with America when the right to bear arms is not freedom but a curse.”

The 20th anniversary edition of Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues is now available in multiple formats, including free PDF.

At Buzzfeed, Doree Shafrir writes about how the media (specifically People) covers domestic violence: “And today, the language around domestic abuse remains euphemistic. Marriages or relationships that seem haunted by the specter of physical and/or emotional abuse are often labeled ‘turbulent’ or ‘volatile’ — certainly a legal hedge, but one that also allows the severity of domestic violence to be downplayed and, in a way, normalized.”


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FUNNY FEMINISM #7: The Sex Drive of a Woman — An Interview with Mary Neely

A regular column, Funny Feminism features conversations with feminist-identifying artists who use humor in their creative work.


Mary Neely is a (now) 25-year-old actress, writer, feminist, filmmaker, and web-series-creator. She can do it all. Based in Los Angeles, her debut short film, “The Dresser” played at film festivals all over the world. Her web series, Wacko Smacko launched last year, and her first feature screenplay, The Dark Room was nominated for an Academy Nicholl Fellowship. I don’t just get immense joy from watching Mary’s work, I also get inspired just thinking about Mary’s work ethic. Talking to her over the phone for this interview, I caught the sort of infectious enthusiasm she has for filmmaking that made me want to jump on a plane and go and work on one of Mary’s films for free. Mary has a vision, but also the guts to set her vision free into the world. I can’t wait to see what she does next and hope you’ll feel compelled to binge-watch her web series after reading this interview.


Cathy de la Cruz: I’m wondering if first you could begin by giving me some background on yourself since I don’t really know that much about you. I’ve seen your work, but I don’t know much about you as a person. I’m interested to hear how you describe yourself i.e., do you describe yourself as an artist or as a comedian or as a filmmaker or as a performer? You do so many things.

Mary Neely:  I’m 23, actually 24; I don’t know why I said 23. I feel old, right now. I grew up in Los Angeles, a lot of different parts of L.A. My parents moved around a lot of different neighborhoods, but I was always living in L.A. and I got really really into community theater when I was in elementary school and became obsessed with theater and Broadway and I wanted to move to New York and do acting, like Shakespeare and low-budget plays but I ended up going to UCLA for college and studied acting there.

While I was there I kinda started taking film history classes mainly in Scandinavian film. I got really into Danish films. It kinda became a crazy obsession where I would just be in UCLA’s video archives all the time.

I always primarily thought of myself as an actor and I studied acting and I thought that I would start auditioning as soon as I got out of school, but then I started doing more film stuff with the film students at UCLA and became really obsessed with film in general and I remember having moments on sets where I thought,  “Oh, I could like do that person’s job better than them.” So once I got out of school, I was really disappointed in the kinds of roles I was going out for. I just think there’s a huge problem with the kind of roles that are written for women and for me specifically as a young woman–I was just like, “This is just really depressing,” and I wasn’t really excited about anything so I just decided, “You know, I’m just gonna do it myself.”

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Rah! Rah! Roundup

rahrahroundup-1024x372Happy 2016, Weird Sisters!

Finally, major media outlets are taking notice of the lack of diversity in film criticism.  “Because men make up the vast majority of critics — 78% of the top critics appearing on the Rotten Tomatoes website in spring 2013 were male — films with male directors and/or writers receive greater exposure from critics…Niche entertainment sites have the worst record for publishing women, who make up only 9 percent of their critics.” Chaz Ebert reminds us that “a wide spectrum of voices is critical in challenging the mainstream white male-dominated narrative that drives much of Hollywood and the popular media. Being introduced to diverse critical voices and opinions in the arts not only affects how we see the world but also has a profound influence on how we begin to heal it.” Continue reading

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Rah! Rah! Roundup


If you read Soleil Ho’s piece this week mourning “Yi-Fen Chou, the Chinese American woman poet who doesn’t exist,” then you might find some welcome comic relief in #WhitePenName Generator.

For those of us who can’t attend every international film festival, there are now at least 100 Latin American Films available for free streaming courtesy of the Buenos Aires Film Festival! I know what I’m doing this weekend. Continue reading

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Translating Djuna Barnes to Film: An Interview with Daviel Shy


My heart gaped when I learned that Chicago-based filmmaker Daviel Shy‘s next project would be a feature-length film based on Djuna Barnes’s novel Ladies Almanack. If you, like me, are enthusiastic about lesbian communities, ex-pat literary culture, fashion, and temporal wormholes, you’ll be as impatient as I am to see it. It won’t be long: the film is currently in production, with an ETA of early next year.

Barnes’s Ladies Almanack, first published in 1928 (full title: Ladies Almanack: showing their Signs and their Tides; their Moons and their Changes; the Seasons as it is with them; their Eclipses and Equinoxes; as well as a full Record of diurnal and nocturnal Distempers, written & illustrated by a lady of fashion), is a sly roman à clef chronicling Barnes’s (mostly lesbian) circle of friends and lovers, and their HQ in Natalie Clifford Barney’s long-running Parisian salon. In reinventing it as a film, Shy is creating a hybrid Chicago-Paris setting and what she calls a “triple time” zone where three distinct periods collide. The film follows characters based not only on Barney (played by Brie Roland) and other thinly veiled figures in the book, including Mina Loy (Brenna Kail) and Radclyffe Hall (Deborah Bright), anchored by narration from French feminists of a later time: Luce Irigaray (Elesa Rosasco), Monique Wittig (Eileen Myles), and Hélène Cixous (as herself). All of these characters blur into the present as they find form in the bodies of contemporary artists and writers. I spoke with Shy about the genesis of the project, her relationship to the book and the community to which it pays homage, and what it was like to work with the great Cixous. Continue reading


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