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Tribeca 2016 Women Directors: Meet Kristi Zea – ‘Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray’

Tribeca 2016 Women Directors: Meet Kristi Zea - 'Everybody Knows... Elizabeth Murray'

“Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray” is the documentary directorial debut for Kristi Zea, a two time Oscar-nominated production designer and producer. Her narrative directorial debut “Domestic Dilemma,” for HBO’s “Women and Men 2,” was nominated for an ACE award. (Press materials)

“Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray” will premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival on April 23.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

KZ: “Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray” is a tribute to the unfaltering McArthur genius, painter Elizabeth Murray. It traces her arrival into the New York art scene in 1967 and follows her struggles as a single mom navigating the choppy waters of sexism and feminism during the 70s and 80s.

Elizabeth’s success is a testament to her remarkable vision and dedication to her craft. Her story is an inspiration to us all, of any gender!

W&H: What drew you to this story?

KZ: Elizabeth was a friend. We met on a trip that five women took in the late 80s which offered us a safe place to “dish and download” as we hiked the canyons of Utah. We recognized similarities in our lives as we juggled the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood.

Inspired by my colleagues Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese’s documentaries about their artist friends, I wanted to document the life of a remarkable woman and artist in her own words.

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

KZ: When people leave the theater I want them to feel uplifted and inspired to follow their path no matter how difficult the circumstances. As a woman I want them to acknowledge the power and strength of love and dedication to family while continuing to work in our desired professions.

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

KZ: Elizabeth became seriously ill just after we started filming. The grief of her family and friends was palpable and an understandable challenge. We endeavored to continue making the film while honoring the privacy of her loved ones.

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

KZ: We were blessed with the initial support of the Warhol Foundation, as well as organizations such as NYSCA, the NEA, WIF Finishing Fund and the Frankenthaler Foundation. We also received generous contributions from The Stanley Family Fund as well as many other friends of Elizabeth Murray.

Unique to this film was the enormous support we received from Elizabeth’s colleagues. Many well-known and wonderful artists donated their works for an auction to help raise funds for the film. Private funding was the majority of our support. We never crowd sourced or solicited funds from a studio.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

KZ: The greatest advice I received was to make the film even if I didn’t have all the money in place. The worst advice I received was to make the film without proper funding in place!

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

KZ: Just do it!

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

KZ: It’s very hard to come up with a favorite film, period! I love Mira Nair and Agnieszka Holland’s work.

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