With Kathryn Bigelow's (The Hurt Locker) historic victory in this year's Oscar Best Director race, a glass ceiling in the typically male-dominated Hollywood studio system was finally shattered. For Jenessa Carson, one of the founders of Reel Women of the West—a Treasure Valley organization designed to support and encourage female filmmakers—the award felt deserved, but long overdue.
"Women are pretty underrepresented in Hollywood behind the camera," she says. "But they're are starting to get a hold in the system."
Since the Autumn of 2004, Reel Women of the West has been working to promote these behind-the-scenes heroines, hosting an annual screenplay contest and regular "chew and view" sessions where members can socialize and screen their work.
This Saturday, the group will present LUNAFEST, a short film festival created by the makers of the LUNAbar that features films made by and about women. There are 10 shorts on the docket, ranging from the heartwarming tale of a Mojave Desert mystic (The McCombie Way) to the heartbreaking story of a homeless mother (Roz and Joshua). These onscreen stories, while dealing with universal human topics, particularly resonate with those concerned with women's issues.
"This festival in particular seeks out that sort of film," says Carson. "Women aren't seeing these issues represented in Hollywood films."
But LUNAFEST isn't exclusively oriented toward heavier subject matter, featuring Oscar-winning director Jessica Yu's amusing animation detailing childhood myths about reproduction (The Kinda Sutra) and a hilarious short about a shape-shifting girl prepping for a first date (Plastic). Also showing is sitcom star Courteney Cox-Arquette's directorial debut (Monday Before Thanksgiving).
It's the second time Reel Women of the West has brought the festival to Boise, the non-profit showcase donating 85 percent of all proceeds go toward the host organization. After the success of last year's showing, Reel Women of the West used some of the cash to help fund a local documentary.
"It was the biggest chunk of change we've billed out yet," says Carson.
The documentary, conceived by recent Boise State graduate Meghan Underwood, tells the story of the Coulsons, a mixed-race European family that sought asylum in Idaho during World War II. With many of the Reel Women of the West members actively creating in the visual medium, female filmmakers benefit from the showcase's proceeds. Seeing some great shorts and supporting Idaho's movie-making maidens and mavens? Sounds like a Reel good deal.