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Inside Out 2015 Women Directors: Meet Christina Zeidler – ‘Portrait of a Serial Monogamist’

Inside Out 2015 Women Directors: Meet Christina Zeidler - 'Portrait of a Serial Monogamist'

Christina Zeidler is a film and video artist with over thirty
titles in distribution. Zeidler is one half of the Euro-electronica-pop-diva sensation “ina unt ina” and part of the high-concept
art band “Mintz.” She has also been the developer and president of the
historic Gladstone Hotel in Toronto since 2003, focusing on the renovation and
revitalization of the building through a community-based approach. The Gladstone
Hotel is more than just a hotel; it is a local hub for the arts that fosters
the local community while providing instant access to the arts scene for those
traveling to Toronto. In her spare time, Zeidler engages in as much community
activism as possible. (Press materials) 

Zeidler co-directed “Portrait of a Serial Monogamist” with John Mitchell. The film premieres at the 2015 Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto on May 31. 

W&H: Please give us your
description of the film playing.

CZ: “Portrait of a Serial Monogamist” is a whip-smart comedy through the dos and don’ts of
lesbian relationships. Elsie, our quick-witted and immensely likable guide, knows exactly when to get out of one — usually when she has met the next woman
she wants to be with. Believing that the way to never get your heart broken is
to leave first, we meet our serial monogamist just as she’s telling her current
girlfriend, Robyn, that it’s over. But something is different this time; her
friends are taking Robyn’s side and Lolli, the woman she thought she wanted,
might not be the one after all. And why is she getting these pangs every time
she sees Robyn? Surely she’s not made a mistake?

W&H: What drew you to this

CZ: One night, in a Toronto bar, I was having beers with co-director
John Mitchell, and we started talking about the movies that we love,
specifically romantic comedies, and how the protagonist is often an emotionally
immature guy who is kind of a jerk, but charming enough that you like him
anyway. I was saying how we always see a guy in that role and how
refreshing it would be to see a woman in that role. We knew immediately that we
had something unique and pinky-swore to make the movie!

W&H: What was the biggest
challenge in making the film?

CZ: Everything and nothing! John and I are both producers of art in
many forms, John in theatre and myself in cultural production and business. So
we felt very confident that we would have no problem making the film. The big problem
was that no other funders would believe in us. Even with our robust track records,
because we were first-time feature filmmakers, we were considered by the major
Canadian funders to have no experience.

This meant we had no access to funds.
We had to raise all the funds for the film ourselves, to create our own track
record. In the end, that is strangely the place we feel most comfortable, in
DIY, community-based projects, so [ultimately] it was not a road block at all,
just a long, winding road.

W&H: What do you want
people to think about when they are leaving the theatre?

CZ: We want them to have had an experience, to have believed in our
characters enough that they miss them a little bit. Maybe they wish they could
run into them later for coffee or something.

W&H: What advice do you
have for other female directors

CZ: Believe in your self, but also believe in the people around you,
the people you like and trust. With the help of your networks and community, you
can do so much. Those are the people who will help you see through your vision.
Keep your vision clear. If you trust your decisions, they will always be right.
(Do I sound like my mother?)

W&H: How did you get your
film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

CZ: Because we were first-time feature filmmakers, John and I could
not find funding from traditional sources. The funding bodies can be risk-averse and, with nothing on the books to prove our ability to make a feature
film, we were shut out. We connected with Mehernaz Lentin, a friend who is a
fantastic producer and ended up actually coming on the project as a producer.
Mehernaz told us to make a trailer for the film and to use that to raise funds and
show people the kind of film we wanted to make.

The traditional wisdom is that you
make a short, but this trailer idea was so clever because it was an immediate
call to action. We used it as the base of our crowd-sourced fundraising
campaign. It was very effective. We went to our communities of interest, the
queer community and our friends and family, and asked them to support the film
directly. With a successful crowd-funded campaign under our belts and an
audience we could show funders, we had the seed that got big funders on board
and helped us complete the film. 

W&H: Name your favorite
woman directed film and why.

CZ: A toss-up between Jane Campion’s “Sweetie” and Lisa Cholodenko’s “High
Art.” Both had a profound effect on me at the time I saw them, and re-watching
them is still a powerful experience.

“Sweetie” has such a unique voice. It addresses the devastating consequences of
childhood through a deeply unlikable character that you feel compelled to
watch as she throws outrageous adult tantrums that strike at the heart of her
family. Campion’s writing in this film reminds me of the work of Lynda Barry, the American graphic novelist. The writing feels entirely fresh and personal,
precisely because it is. Campion spares nothing with heart-wrenching honesty that is both bitter and sweet. 

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