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Documenting Women’s Stories: November 2015’s Crowdfunding Picks

Documenting Women's Stories: November 2015's Crowdfunding Picks

This month’s first crowdfunding picks focus on the strength of women in the powerful medium of documentary film. Unintentionally — yet joyously — our top crowdfunding projects this week all serve to highlight the capabilities and the artistic intelligence of female filmmakers, especially within the dynamism of nonfiction film. While women are shamefully sidelined within the problematic confines of Hollywood, documentary film often provides a platform for female filmmakers to express their talents, voices and continuously captivating stories — and we have a lot of stories to tell.

The following projects include: Muslim women coming together to condemn the persistent, post-9/11, (Western) prejudice they face everyday, the first-ever documentary to be made about pivotal author and activist Maya Angelou, a detailed documentary that explores the historical and cultural significance of the vampire figure (with some very special guests already on board), a project that seeks to collect real-life stories from women across the world — and, finally, a web series that documents the incredible skill of female athletes across a plethora of sports. 

Here are some of the best women-centric crowdfunding projects you can help fund this month. 

Exploiting It? (Documentary) – Written and Directed by Jade Jackson

Independent filmmaker and scholar Jade Jackman presents a short documentary about the demonization and political fetishization of Muslim women within Western, colonialist countries, like the UK and US, since 9/11. Through interviews, Jackman allows space for us to listen to what these women — many of them academics, writers and fellow directors — have to say, without the toxic distortions of a sensationalist media and right-wing government. The film’s crowdfunding page explains that the project “offers an insight into how (UK) governmental legislation, such as “Prevent” and the “Counter Terrorism and Security Bill,” is seeping into intended areas of life and institutionalizing racist stereotypes.” Jackman, with the solidarity of her crew and participants, aims to confront toxic portrayals of Muslim women through having these women speak for themselves.

You can help fund the film through its crowdfunding page until November 19.

The Womanity Project – Created by Aurelie Harp

Filmmakers and friends Aurelie Harp, Amy Lawday and Carmen Sutton got together to create a documentary series that explores the unique — yet interweaving — lives of women across the globe, with an aim to advance gender equality through easy access to women’s stories, told first hand. Harp explains that “personal stories are powerful and their appeal is universal. “The Womanity Project” wants to give a voice to the “ordinary heroines — and heroes — we all are. Our hope is to introduce change on both an individual level and across society at large.” The series will comprise of a number of interviews about often relatable issues that people face everyday within the context of equality and women’s rights in order to push forward the agenda of bringing people across the world closer. 

You can help fund “The Womanity Project” on its crowdfunding page until November 23.

A Place Among the Undead (Documentary) – Created and Co-Directed by Juliet Landau 

Created and directed by Juliet Landau — otherwise known as “Drusilla” from the critically acclaimed and immortalized TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — “A Place Among the Undead” is a documentary that examines the legendary figure of the vampire, from its historical, gothic roots to its pseudo-celebrity status in contemporary popular culture. As if this weren’t enough to get contributors on board, other filmmakers and actors affiliated with Landau’s project include Anne Rice (author of “Interview With a Vampire”), Charlaine Harris (author of The Sookie Stackhouse Novels), Gary Oldman (“Dracula”), Tim Burton (director of “Dark Shadows”), William Dafoe (“Shadow of the Vampire”) and Robert Patrick (“From Dusk Till Dawn 2”). “We met with a number of production companies who want to invest,” recalls Landau, “but based on those meetings, we feel this can’t be made inside the system and be as truthful, authentic and special as it needs to be.” Given that the horror genre is one that is often lacking in films made by women, this project definitely sounds like something we can sink our teeth into.

You can contribute to the funding of the film on its crowdfunding page until November 25.

Women in Sports Documentary Webseries – Directed by Shantel Rizzotto

Created to draw attention to and recognize the skillful parts that women play in the field of sport, independent filmmaker Shantel Rizzotto’s webseries is comprised of interviews, discussions and behind-the-scenes footage of strong, female athletes — something that is all-too-often omitted from mainstream coverage of the sports world, which is dishearteningly male-dominated. The crowdfunding page notes, “Since the dawn of professional sports, women have been missing not only as officials, but from every aspect of the game. On the playing field, on the sidelines as coaches, in the announcement booth and in the stands. However, times have changed. A cultural shift is happening — women are making their mark.” That is definitely something that needs to be widely realized. It’s certainly true — the cultural exclusion of women from sport has a significantly detrimental affect to the rights and empowerment of women across the world. People need to know that we can play the game just as well (if not better). 

You can help fund this project on its crowdfunding page, until November 29.

The Maya Angelou Documentary – Co-Directed by Rita Coburn Whack

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style,” spoke Maya Angelou. Given the profound influence that her ever-popular work (her writing, music and activism) has had on the progression of (albeit still not fully granted) racial and gender equality, it is almost unfathomable that no feature film has ever before documented her life and journey. Through archival footage and a series of interviews, Rita Coburn Whack, Maya Angelou’s former radio producer for Oprah Radio, aims to respectfully explore the work and lasting impression of this hugely influential black female figure. The crowdfunding page explains that the film “will reflect on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism. We hope to shed light on the untold aspects of her life and to educate audiences about her story.” This is a fascinating documentary that — with a little extra funding — can win widespread critical and popular acclaim.

You can contribute to the funding of “The Maya Angelou Documentary” on the film’s Kickstarter Page until December 1.

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