VCU students spearhead women’s film festival

Mechelle Hankerson
Assistant Spectrum Editor

While large and well-established film festivals are preparing for their annual season in Richmond, junior VCU cinema major Christine Stoddard is making preparations for a new film festival.

With the help of grant funding from the Student Government Association, Stoddard was able to fund the first Reel Dame Film Festival.

Stoddard created the Society for Women in Cinema, which focuses on females in the art and business of film. She said she wanted girls at VCU who are interested in film to have a social and professional network.

“If it’s competitive for men to find work in the industry, it’s even harder for women,” Stoddard said.

The group, upon hearing about the $15,000 grant available, first discussed the idea of a women’s film festival. After the discussion, the group more officially proposed the idea through paperwork to the SGA.

“In April 2010, we learned that we’d won the award and we’ve been as crazy and busy as killer bees ever since,” Stoddard said.

The grant is only good for a year and – unless the festival is re-awarded the grant – Stoddard said this will likely be the first and last year for the festival.

The team behind the Reel Dame festival has secured a partnership with the James River Film Festival to share some speakers as well as the same space: VCU’s Grace Street Theater.

Stoddard has assisted in running the D.C. Indie Arts Festival since 2008 and said this experience, as well as her creation of the Society for Women in Cinema, inspired her idea for the festival.

“It was all very natural, very spontaneous,” she said.

While the full schedule is not yet finalized, Stoddard did say she is excited for the screening of experimental filmmaker Stacey Steers.

Steers is based out of Colorado and teaches film at the University of Colorado. She creates animated films out of individual pieces of art over the span of several years.

Mary Beth Reed, VCU professor of Cinema, is also scheduled to show her work.

Stoddard said a full schedule will be posted on The Reel Dame Film Festival Facebook group page this week.

Despite a finalized schedule, the organizers will still be accepting student submissions. Films must be largely a product of females or explore women’s issues in short or feature-length form.

Submissions will be accepted until April 5.

Submissions can be dropped off at the VCUarts Cinema office in room 512 of the Pollak Building or mailed to P.O. Box 4844, Richmond, VA, 23220.

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