The 2016 Bluestocking Film Series: Everything a Film Festival Should Be, and More!

Posted by Leah on 7/19/2016 9:48:39 AM

        July 14-16, 2016 in Portland Maine, the Bluestocking Film Series celebrated its 6th year. The weekend was a busy one, and included panel discussions, 22 films, parties, networking events, a youth program and more.
        While I’ve been to plenty, it’s always interesting to me to experience different film festivals. I’ve found that each festival has its own unique vibe.  The New Hampshire Film Festival strives to bring a little bit of Hollywood to New Hampshire by bringing in celebrities, having a red carpet to walk down and having groups of photographers take your picture, just like the paparazzi would do. The Maine Jewish Film Festival highlights the best of what Jewish filmmakers from around the world have to offer, while also celebrating cultural diversity. The Somewhat North of Boston Film Festival aspires to show people the best of what indie filmmakers and craft brewers have been up to. The Bluestocking Film Series hopes to prove to people that nothing is missing in a film that has strong, female protagonists, and they certainly accomplished that, and then some!
Maria Giese, Loren King, Ariel Dougherty, Yolonda Ross, Alison Beyea and Kate Kaminski

Maria Giese, Loren King, Ariel Dougherty, Yolonda Ross, Alison Beyea and Kate Kaminski

        The weekend kicked off on Thursday with a discussion panel about the current state of women and girls on television and in film. The panelists were an impressive lot, and included Alison Beyea, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine, Ariel Dougherty, who is currently writing a book,
Feminist Filmmaking Within Communities, and who founded the organization Women Make Movies, which is a distribution company for female filmmakers; Maria Giese, a writer and filmmaker who co-founded the activist/agitator web forum "Women Directors in Hollywood," that helped initiate the current EEOC joint government agency investigation into hiring practices in Hollywood; Loren King, who is a longtime entertainment journalist and film critic with The Boston Globe; and actress, writer, director producer Yolonda Ross. The discussion was a very informative one and really drove home the message that Hollywood has a HUGE gender gap problem. When it was over, I left feeling empowered and inspired. Just as with food, the suggestion to begin to fix this problem is to vote with your dollars. To make it a point to see films that have female leads, or female directors. Hollywood won’t be able to ignore the problem forever if the money shifts in this way.

        After the panel discussion was a kick-off party held at High Output’s Bell Street Soundstage. There was music and food, as well as a signature cocktail created for the festival and beer from Rising Tide Brewery, who was an event sponsor. In one room a short film, that was created by Khaney Muyderman as a gift for festival founder Kate Kaminski, was on a loop so that party guests could watch it. There was also a photographer there to take photos of party attendees in front of a festival banner.
        Friday started with screenings of the two short films
Sweet Bananas and Domestic Tranquility, both of which were made in the 70’s. After the screenings Ariel Dougherty answered questions from the audience, and discussed how and why each film was made. Following that was a networking party at Slab pizzeria, hosted by Women in Media Organizer Tema Staig.
        At 7:30 pm Friday night the first seven short films of the festival were shown. They included
Beverley, Lunch in Lima, Sista in the Brotherhood, Three Women Wait for Death, Vanilla, Tits on a Bull and You, Me and Her. The films were as diverse as the people that made them, and ranged from heartbreaking to hilarious and everything in between.
        Saturday began with the youth program, which featured 5 shorts that were deemed appropriate for youth ages 16+. The lineup featured the films
Charlotte, Dandelion, Q.U.E.E.N., Videogames and Bloody Barbara. Saturday night was the Road Movie program, during which 8 films were shown, including The Happiest Day of My Life, Woman in Deep, Running Nowhere Fast (which was made by festival founder Kate Kaminski), Split Costs, Minor Setback, The Bridge Partner, Start the Invasion Without Me and The Beast.  A Q & A session was held afterwards, with several of the filmmakers and actors whose films had just been screened. Afterwards was the closing party at the Local 188 restaurant.
Jeffery Palmer, Mela Hudson, Tori Hall, Eve Edelson, Kabii Gwii and Evadne Bryan-Perkins

Jeffery Palmer, Mela Hudson, Tori Hall, Eve Edelson, Kabii Gwii and Evadne Bryan-Perkins

        Usually, upon reflecting on the films of a given festival after the screenings are done, I can easily pick out the ones I liked the most. This time though it’s just not that easy. All of the films shown were wonderful in their own ways, and had such broad ranges and fantastic writing, that to pick a favorite would be doing a disservice to the rest of the films.
        The other thing that struck me about Bluestocking was the sheer friendly, welcoming and accepting nature of everyone involved. Not to say that the operators of other film festivals have been mean, or cold shouldered in any way; it’s just that the people of Bluestocking truly succeeded in making the gathering feel like a close knit community. Although I had only just met most of the people involved, being with them felt like being with old friends, which was an unexpected bonus to the overall experience.
        If your love of great films alone isn’t enough to get you to the Bluestocking Film Series next year, then surely the chance to meet some amazing and inspiring new friends, as well as the opportunity to experience so many other great events during the weekend should help! It really is one of those experiences of a lifetime!

               More information about the Bluestocking Film Series can be found at, or on Twitter @BluestckngFilm. I’ll bring you my reviews of some of the films I saw, as well as interviews with the filmmakers, in the future, so keep an eye here for more!