I love films. And I especially love documentaries. Fiction, which I also love, is reflective of the true stories we tell. Documentary filmmaking seeks out that which lies in the shadows and brings it to light. The untold stories, the hidden, the secrets, the mysterious, the dismissed – those stories that sit right in front of our faces, pass by us daily, but are deemed lesser than by a comfort-seeking majority.
Once brought of out of the shadows the stories that documentaries tell weave into fictional narratives and serve the important role of seeping into and broadening out the base of what stories a society tells overall. These stories make more people’s lives – their triumphs and struggles — visible, understood, and work to influence policy, job markets, community action, expand exposure and interest in cultural fiction from the perspective of minority groups, and enriches the core of our humanity.
There was a palpable anticipatory vibe surfing through the sold out crowd before the films started. A complex mix of being excited for these young women to show their films at the beautiful Hollywood Theater, and, it’s 2016 and women still seem to have to be overly grateful for people to listen to their stories. We yearn for a day when a girl’s narrative is given equal importance to that of boys, is automatically considered, as, if not more, worthwhile. And we sit there knowing that Produced By Her, and other girls and women doing similar projects, are the beginning of making that happen. The beginning of a time women like JK (Joanne) Rowling can, without thought, use her full name and know that she does not have to hide behind initials else have her story immediately dismissed by half the population.
It was enthralling to see the subject matter picked for the films. The stories of young black women’s experiences of living in our predominantly white Portland (We are Black Women), the disturbing rates (highest in the country) of young girls being stalked and lured into sex trafficking in Portland (Traffick), a celebration of women street artists, showcasing their commissioned work at the Vintage hotel (Empowered Streets), and the importance of safe spaces for the LGBTQ community (A Space for Us).
After receiving a crash course in all things filmmaking from filmmakers Kerri Lynne Thorp and Kalimah Abioto, the girls did a killer job of interviewing their subjects to get to the core of their subject matter, creating dynamically visual B-roll, and incorporating personal narratives when it suited the story. Wrapping all the elements together with skillful editing making for solid and impacting narratives.
After the four documentary shorts, a captivating and inspiring documentary on the Produced By Her process, directed by Kerri Lynne Thorp and Rachel Bracker and produced by Vox Siren, was screened. In the documentary, one of the young filmmakers said something along of the lines of, “At school I get complimented on my hair and my clothes, but here [in the Produced By Her program] I get complimented on my ideas and my creativity.” This was followed by yelps and excited applause. We are excited for a young women to see and understand that they have a different, more expansive, true story to tell themselves. We are excited to hear this as women because we can never hear this enough. This one shift in perspective will ripple out into every future action these young women make: career choices and advancement, relationship choices, the way purchases are made, what drives an economy. And I am excited to see millions of self-realized story epiphanies ripple out into the future and change the way girls and woman walk through the world, their voices prominent, their bodies valued as their own, and their minds respected whatever space they are in or table they are seated around.
It is absolutely a fiction that men’s stories are for everyone, and women’s stories are only for women, are secondary. They are not and they never were. Women literally give birth to all stories. That is the truth Project Her is part of exposing. Vox Siren knows this, embodies this, and lives this. No one can tell women anything different. Not anymore. The young women of Produced By Her, and the young women and men who viewed their films, all know this. The future is bright.
For information on screenings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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