Celebrating its fourth year in existence, Lunafest makes a grand debut in Boise this Saturday at The Flicks. With March officially being Women's History Month, the national festival by, for, and about women will go hand in hand with numerous other events throughout the country. Competitive entrance into the 2004 festival culminated in seven winning films representing issues of women's health, cultural diversity, body image, sexuality and spirituality.
The event provides much needed exposure for emerging female filmmakers as well as for one Idaho filmmaker, Cecilia Rinn, whose film short Full Circle was chosen over two other entries submitted to represent local talent. As one of the judges on the Idaho selection committee, we greatly appreciated all entries and Full Circle was chosen as it aptly conveys the central messages of the Lunafest. Rinn takes her audience through a brief synopsis of her life, mainly involving her affectionate relationship with her grandmother from whom she inherited her love of dance and positive view of herself-in order to come "full circle" in her appreciation of life and death.
The birth of this festival in Boise is a Lunafest story in itself. While searching for a Lunabar logo to add to the Co-op's coupon book last December, director of advertising Jodi Peterson stumbled across the Lunafest Web site instead, followed the link of how to host a festival, and decided to direct the event almost single-handedly from that. As Madeline Behrendt of Idaho Women Filmmakers said of Peterson, "She's like the Lunafest champ!" Peterson did have to go through the traditional hoops to launch her idea, however, as she underwent the monumental task of convincing Co-op General Manager Ken Karanagh to provide support-his initial and conclusive response was, "Uh, cool."
Backed by the Boise Co-op, Peterson then enlisted Carol Skinner of the Flicks to provide the venue and organized a Body Image workshop for women to be held at Boise State, thanks to the university's Women's Center donating all equipment and a location on short notice. Faye Lederman, director of Lunafest film A Good Uplift, hosts the workshop. "Body Image is a discussion program we run following the screening, and the idea is to use the film (A Good Uplift) as a catalyst to discuss our bodies and the media's influence," Lederman says. The Boise Learning Center at the Co-op's new Flipside Café serves as the primary sponsor for the workshop.
"I was just really excited about it, and anyone who needs it can go because it's free. With the generosity of the Co-op, we're able to bring the workshop to town which is unusual for a Lunafest screening. I read about Faye and then met with Ken, who agreed this is a perfect first event for our Learning Center to sponsor," says Peterson. As all Lunafests are generally coordinated without the festival's in-person involvement, directors like Peterson take on the daunting task of corresponding with the national organization virtually through e-mail and conference calls. Like the Vagina Monologues, Lunafest has often been held at universities and Peterson recalls a funny conference call with student organizers in other cities.
"The call I did with these university girls was primarily: 'Hi! This, like, will be so cool. We're, like, so excited to do this. We're thinking maybe, like, doing a keg at the show!' and I was thinking, 'Like, I'm never doing a conference call again,'" laughs Peterson.
The Flipside Café will host a screening of the festival on Sunday in addition to the Flicks' showings Saturday. Flipside's screening adds approximately 50 additional tickets to the 400 The Flicks can provide. "We don't know how successful it will be," Peterson admits. If Boise wildly supports Lunafest this year, possible expansion to include screenings at Boise State in 2006 is likely.
"Independent films are so expensive to make, even for a five-minute film. To show work and break into that can be exclusive-for people with money," Peterson says of the benefit festivals can contribute. "Indie films like The Full Monty, Reality Bites, and Garden State can express what they want to and break out of the formula, as they don't have to answer to anything," she continues.
Terri Edda Miller, director of the Lunafest film Dysenchanted, explains what it's like to be a woman in the biz. "Depends on which woman you are," she begins. "I find that being a person in the biz is difficult ... Hollywood spares no one. For instance, what ever happened to Benji?" Miller jokes. "I do think that creating product with female protagonists/ leads for feature films is a challenge. It's still a boy's club ... the issue is ultimately not about sexual politics but about the quality of our work and having a passion for the piece we're creating. I love being a filmmaker, but it's something nobody can be unless they are willing to take as many blows as Rocky one through five."
Miller feels honored to be part of Lunafest as she finds the chosen films "inspirational and thought provoking," while the event "provides a chance most short filmmakers don't get." Though her initial inspiration was from a monthly poker game where friends donned princess hats and wands, "Dysenchanted comes from a lifetime of exposure to fabulous women who inspire me on a regular basis," says Miller. "Heroism arises from hardship. That's where fairy tales come from," she adds. Between films of Miller's skewed fairy tales and Rinn's heartfelt metamorphosis, the 2004 Lunafest as organized by Peterson is destined to be a hit. All proceeds benefit The Breast Cancer Fund and directors Miller and Lederman will both be present at the screenings.
Lunafest, Saturday, 12:30 and 3 p.m., The Flicks, $12
Sunday, 6:30 p.m., The Flipside Cafe, $12
Body Image Workshop, Saturday, 6 p.m., Boise State Student Union Jordan D Ballroom, Free
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