Thursday, June 4, 2015

Behind the Screen:
Stepping Toward the Lion--Finding My Story.

Filmmaker John Lyden
Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the student filmmakers from the CSWE 2015 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award--a $500 prize--will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience.

In time for today's International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression and June's Student Safety Month. filmmaker John Lyden (College of St. Rose) explains below the background to Stepping Toward the Lion, his film about a young Muslim American finding his voice via an innovative program for addressing bullying.

Stepping Toward the Lion: Finding My Story showcases the intense struggles of Alaudeen Umar, a young African American Muslim, as he transitions from an all-Muslim school to a nondenominational charter school. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Alaudeen faced prejudice and bullying in this new environment, something that caused him considerable insecurity. As a proactive step to help him to deal with the bullying, Alaudeen’s family searched out and found a local interfaith storytelling group called Children at the Well.

The film depicts his transformation, going from being a bully victim in school, unsure and confused with his religion, to embracing his identity and becoming a versatile and talented storyteller.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Behind the Screen: Stage Presence.

Filmmakers Hannah Merritt (left) and Flannery Wasson
Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the student filmmakers from the CSWE 2015 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award--a $500 prize--will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience.

During June's LGBT Pride Month, filmmaker Flannery Wasson (Univ of Arkansas) explains below the background to Stage Presence, the film she made with Hannah Merritt.

Stage Presence was created in our college town of Fayetteville that is nestled in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. We could have easily shot the picturesque nature scenes around us, but instead we chose to spend 8 months in smoky bars and loud nightclubs burning through batteries late into the night. 

Stage Presence follows two young people who use performance as a means to express themselves and address gender stereotypes. Moises identifies as bi-gender and has just begun to perform as Valerie at drag shows as a way to connect with and explore both gender identities. He’s always felt there was more to discover even after coming out in his teens, so he has finally decided to break into the growing drag scene in northwestern Arkansas. Whitney is a rising stand-up comedian who writes material that doesn’t include typical "female" jokes. As a former peer health educator, she’s become known for crafting jokes that challenge making light of sexual assault. New to performing, she’s continually looking to establish herself and find her voice on stage.

Stage Presence gives you perspective into performers’ lives to see what motivates them to ignore the risks and nerves and get on stage to share their craft. It was important to us to capture the moments you don’t usually have access to when you are just an audience member. It’s not often that people can have conversations with stand-up comedians or drag queens, so we wanted to make sure to make a film that gives you the intimate look into their lives. Hannah and I had never made a documentary before creating Stage Presence, and we did so as undergraduates in a graduate-level course. In the end, we ended up with a film that we are immensely proud of and eager to share.