This year’s Filmland, curated by the Arkansas Cinema Society, will spotlight women filmmakers during its opening night. Audiences will have the chance to view “Troop Zero,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film, starring Viola Davis and Allison Janney, follows a group of misfit Girl Scouts in the 1970s. Its writer, Lucy Alibar, as well as its directors Bert and Bertie are all women.
Kathryn Tucker, Executive Director for the Arkansas Cinema Society, says this particular night serves as a nice contrast from the rest of the festival.
“The rest of the weekend, we have an incredible lineup of male filmmakers. But we have some work to do in the filmmaking industry to increase the exposure of female directors and writers. So, having that be our opening night is really exciting,” Tucker said.
Prior to the feature film, two short films, created by the Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls the cinema society put on this past spring, will also have their premieres. According to Tucker, they received more applications than they could accept for the lab itself. Ultimately, 12 teen girls were chosen from 11 different schools in the central Arkansas area. Those girls collaborated together for an eight-week period to make two separate, four-minute short films from start to finish.
“As a filmmaker myself that grew up in Arkansas, the teen girl in me is very jealous,” Tucker said. According to Tucker, this kind of program would have helped her realize her passion sooner, like it did for some of this year’s participants.
“A lot of them, it changed their college trajectories…I wanted to be a photographer and I didn’t find film until I graduated from college. And so they’re way ahead of me there and I just hope they keep making movies together,” Tucker said. Both shorts were prompted by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, one of the lab’s partners, to have a science, technology, engineering, arts or mathematics (STEAM) message.
“We wanted the films to be about female empowerment. So, they had a couple of parameters, nothing too rigorous. They didn’t write something that was like ‘explosions at War Memorial’ because we don’t have that kind of capability,” Tucker said. The films “Ensemble” and “Justitia” both deal with themes of empowerment. By having a night strictly dedicated to female filmmakers, Tucker wants to bring an awareness to the lack of women in Hollywood.
“I’ve been in the industry 20 years and I’ve just completed the first film that I directed, and [have] watch[ed] my male friends get opportunities that I don’t have. And so, I think it’s not just giving females the job, but celebrating their work once it’s finished is part of the process and it’s an extremely important part of the process,” Tucker said.
Filmland runs from Aug. 22 through Aug. 25, with the screenings of “Ensemble”, “Justitia” and “Troop Zero” occurring on Thursday, Aug. 22.