SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – On Monday, the SCAD Savannah Film Festival brought female leaders in filmmaking to town for the Refinery 29 + Level Forward Shatterbox screening event.
Refinery 29 is a global media organization that focuses on women of all kinds. The company’s mission statement states:
“Refinery 29 is a catalyst for women to see, feel, and claim their power. We are the leading next-gen media and entertainment company focused on you- women pushing the status quo, in their lives and in the world.”
“Pushing the status quo” is exactly what the company is doing with its recently created Shatterbox series.
Shatterbox was born in 2016 when Refinery 29 President Amy Emmerich and producer Shannon Gibson learned that only 4% of the top 100 films were directed by women. Refinery 29 partnered with Level Forward to get women behind the camera and create a platform that gives female filmmakers more opportunities to be heard.
On Monday, the SCAD Savannah Film Festival screened seven short films from Shatterbox’s upcoming third season.
The following films were shown:
- Shoot – Directed by Veronica Rodriguez
- Girl Callin – Directed by Tiffany J. Johnson
- Wingmen – Directed by Nicole Emanuele
- Human Terrain – Directed by Parisa Barani
- Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die – Directed by Kantu Lentz
- Dorethea’s Blues – Directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples
- White Echo – Directed by Chloe Sevigny
The short films ranged from “Shoot”, the outrageous comedy about a multi-million dollar art deal, to “Wingmen”, the story of two female pilots making tough decisions, to “White Echo”, the story about supernatural powers and friendship.
Emmerich told News 3 that Shatterbox is not just about hearing from women, but hearing from all kinds of women and recognizing the connection we have to each of them.
“Representation, you know, women as air pilots, and how we just don’t see women in a lot of the positions we should see,” Emmerich said. “And human connection… there’s more that connects us than divides us.”
All seven films touch on familiar themes such as love, friendship, motherhood, grief, heartbreak, loyalty, etc. However, like Emmerich said, these stories were told through the female gaze and offer perspectives not always seen in mainstream movies.
For example, “Dorothea’s Blues” tells the story of a community’s reaction to the grand jury decision in the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014. Director Channing Godfrey Peoples provided a unique perspective by focusing on the reaction of a grieving mother.
Peoples became emotional during a Q&A session after the screening when talking about the themes of motherhood and grief throughout the piece. She then revealed that she is a mother, which is something that helped her to empathize with her main female character.
“Dorethea’s Blues” would likely leave a different impact and touch a different audience had it not been written and directed by a mother.
News 3 spoke with a group of SCAD performing arts students after the event about diversity in the filmmaking industry.
Student Paris Parker said that the fact that all of the Shatterbox films were directed by women is extremely motivating.
“It’s definitely inspiring, and it creates a drive and kind of fuels the fire that you already had that it’s possible to have that place in the business,” Parker said.
Another student said she felt particularly inspired by “Human Terrain” because of the way director Parisa Barani used the female perspective to speak to a wide audience.
“I could totally connect with the characters even though I’ve never been in the military,” the student said. “Knowing that the actors were mostly female, along with the directors and the producers, it makes me feel like ‘Ok, you can create something that is very meaningful’ and that was very inspiring to me.”
Barani told News 3 she hopes young women, like these SCAD students who look up to her work, are encouraged to be bold and authentic.
Cleon Ony is another SCAD student who attended the screening. He said he felt like he was watching “the future” of filmmaking.
“[Diversity] is what we all really need in the industry right now,” Ony said. “It’s what filmmaking is all about. Telling stories, teaching people, making people feel things they’ve never felt before.”