Citizen Jane puts women directors in the spotlight

The sixth annual Citizen Jane Film Festival triumphed once again, offering “independent film by independent women.”  The 2013 festival ran from Oct. 4 – 6 and was sponsored by Stephens College. The films focused on the theme “the end of the world” and were shown at Columbia locations including Ragtag Cinema, The Missouri Theater and Stephens College .

In 2012, women accounted for 9 percent of all directors working in the top 250 domestic grossing films, according to Celluloid Ceiling. Citizen Jane overcomes the underrepresentation of women in film while working to improve statistics.

Since the 2008 premier, supporters ranging from all ages and backgrounds come to encourage emerging and established filmmakers. After experiencing the independent female film movement, it is hard not come back for more. In fact, Citizen Jane has grown by almost 50 percent yearly. The screenings promote the work of women, but are also selected based on angle and artistic ingenuity.

“It’s so interesting to see films made by women and notice how the perspective is different than a traditional male directed film,” Elyse Bertani, house manager and first-year volunteer said. “The way that women are portrayed in general is a lot more genuine than what you see in films produced from a man’s perspective because they don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.”

Citizen Jane offers a diverse international edge that provides viewpoints of women across the world. Filmmakers and their works are brought to Columbia cost free. Personal question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers are provided for audience members after each showing.

Key films this year included “Maidentrip,” “Breast Milk” and “A Teacher.” Maidentrip is a documentary featuring 14-year-old Laura Dekker who is on a two-year journey to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. It was screened Friday, October 4, at The Missouri Theatre and is ranked as the most popular film reaching 609 total views.

Stephen’s students and Columbians volunteer yearly to provide an enjoyable and enlightening community experience. Volunteers are involved in important aspects of the festival, which includes spooky art presentations, organizing tickets and promoting merchandise.

“Being able to say I was a volunteer even for a day … It makes you proud to be a part of something that’s so empowering to women in this industry,” Bertani said.

Julie Bondeson, retired social worker, was a newcomer to Citizen Jane.

“I found out about Citizen Jane from the publicity from Rag Tag,” Bondeson said.

Rag Tag, an independent film and arts cinema café in downtown Columbia, publicizes Citizen Jane through Facebook with web links and festival information.   They also provide space so Citizen Jane films can expand to other venues and audiences.

Citizen Jane’s independent films are so moving that they inspire female audience members to create their own film ideas.

“If I created my own film it would be something about coming of age,” Bondeson said. “It would probably be about a young person very carefree who is suddenly jolted into adulthood.”

With twelve sponsors supporting this festival, it is hard to believe that Citizen Jane’s lecture series only began in 2008. Continuing the tradition, Citizen Jane’s sixth annual festival will not be complete without revolutionary ideas, talented female filmmakers and another step toward breaking film industry trends.

Marie Fulcher

About the Author Marie Fulcher

Marie Fulcher has called Columbia, Mo., her home for as long as she can remember. “People are always saying Columbia is so small and they want to get away, but I like it enough. It is small enough to know a lot of people,but big enough to discover new places every day,” Fulcher said. Attending MU, that was an easy choice. Her father is a professor at CAFNR, which helped to instil her tiger pride early.