This land is Herland: Filmmaking mentorship program fosters female talent

Monday 03rd, October 2016 / 07:46
By Morgan Cairns
Paige Boudreau and Jessie Short (pictured) are two of five female filmmakers put in focus this October 7th at Theatre Junction GRAND. Photo: Tiffany Leung

Paige Boudreau and Jessie Short (pictured) are two of five female filmmakers put in focus this October 7th at Theatre Junction GRAND.
Photo: Tiffany Leung

CALGARY — For the last five months, the five female directors of the Herland Video Production Mentorship have been diligently working on the development and production of short films. With mentors from the local film community to help guide them, the directors each created shorts, and now they are finally ready for us to see. Screening on October 7th at Theatre Junction GRAND, it will be a night that not only celebrates five emerging talents, but the fostering nature of Calgary’s film community. We sat down with one of the workshop’s participants, Paige Boudreau, to talk about the workshop and the upcoming screening, where she will premiere her short film, Mallory Memphis.

Boudreau, who had been working in the industry as a producer, was thrilled to be part of the mentorship. “I really love the Calgary community, so being mentored by other people the community was really big for me,” says Boudreau. “I feel like this is a Calgary thing, but when people get on board, they’re on board 110 per cent.”

One of Herland’s goals is to foster female filmmakers who, in the midst of the cinematic boys-club, often find themselves overlooked when it comes to funding and mentorship. Boudreau, who was initially hesitant to take part in a female-focused program, now appreciates its significance. “For a long time I was really upset and didn’t apply to women-centric things, because I wanted my work to stand toe-to-toe with anybody, I didn’t want to feel like there was this handicap,” says Boudreau. “And what I realized is, it’s not a handicap, it’s levelling the playing field.” When asked what would be the most significant thing she takes away from the mentorship experience, Boudreau mentions how, through the program, she has become an advocate for women in film. “It really opened my eyes to how the odds are stacked against us as women, but it also made me really passionate and a real advocate for showing the world that we are just as capable and we have beautiful stories to tell.”

And while Boudreau has gained invaluable experience through the Herland mentorship, she says the community stands to benefit as well. “When Calgary supports Calgary filmmakers, were creating a better culture for everyone. I think we have world class talent here, and we are able to elevate it to a city-wide, province-wide, nation-wide and global scale.”

Encouraged to create films based on a personal story or experience, you can expect an engaging and diverse lineup of films. From Paige Boudreau’s black comedy Mallory Memphis, the story of a girl who is unable to hold her breath, to Taouba Khelifa’s poetic documentary Enough, that asks four women the forthright question of “When did we start believing we weren’t enough?,” to Gillian McKercher’s Family Photo, Vicki Van Chau’s The Perfect Man and Jessie Short’s Sweet Night, the thematic impetus of the program is evident in its resulting works.

Herland participants screen their films at Theatre Junction GRAND on October 7th. Free tickets can be claimed via the venue’s box office.

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