I'm working on my first Director's Statement for a film about the first women priests in the Episcopal Church. As with all creative work, a first draft is simply a draft and will evolve as the project develops. I am moved by the messages in The Rev. Alla Bozarth's poem "Take it Seriously" to share the process as it evolves. As she says, "Sign your name to your work... do not fear judgement." These beautiful cards with her moving poetry can be found at Bear Blessings Soul Cards.
DRAFT1 DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT
I was born in 1974. I am not Episcopalian. I was raised in a UCC church with a male minister, but knew of plenty of women ministers and never questioned women’s leadership in the church. I’m of the generation that always knew of Episcopal women priests, and did not know the struggle that came before. I always assumed it was the norm.
About seven years ago, I learned about the ordinations that took place in Philadelphia in 1974, and was blown away by the bravery of the women involved. At what point did they decide to challenge this institution, which is thousands of years old? How did they consider the risks? The more I have uncovered, the more I respect others who were an important part of the process including the members of the Church of the Advocate, the priests who were taken to ecclesiastical trial, and the list goes on. What moved each of these players to risk their careers, their parish, and their futures, in order to support a group of women who were called to the priesthood?
The title of the film is important to me. “To be whole” is a calling for most of us on a daily basis. How do we pursue our vocations regardless of whether society is ready? How do we keep our integrity when it feels like the easy answers ask us to compromise? How do we stand up for justice in every moment when life pulls us in so many different directions? I can imagine post-film discussions where we all reflect on how the story of the original women priests asks us to consider big questions that confront us in our own lives.
I am many things in my daily life including a filmmaker, organizer, history nerd, avid gardener and proud mother. I am passionate about collaborating with others to document the lives of the people who have come before us, whose stories have not been a part of the historical narrative. I am excited about finding new ways to distribute documentary films to empower people, and shift narratives. I strive to produce a documentary that will be engaging, and will be a vehicle for teaching, learning, preserving and exploring the past. I find I am at my best as a director when I am listening and allowing the protagonists of the story to lead.
Though I am not Episcopalian, I am particularly moved by this story. I think it raises questions for all of us about whether we are living our lives, to quote The Rev. Alla Bozarth, "with integrity."
We are at a crossroads again, in 2019, just as we were in 1974. Let us take the time to remember and learn about the people who came before us, as we work for a world where all of us can be whole.
The work I was moved this week watching white male workers testify about how they connected to Councilwoman Carmen Castillo's story at our festival premiere at Big Sky Film Festival in Missoula, MT. This is the impact we didn't plan on, but may be the most important. Thanks to stellar cinematographer Nikki Bramley for these photos.
What I'm thinking about People often say to me, "well the Philadelphia Eleven is a story about white women..." While the women ordained Episcopal priests on July 29, 1974 are white, it is not a story only about white people. No story is about one group of people, because as humans we are all connected. In this case, the church that invited the women to be ordained against Episcopal Church rules, at great risk of losing financial support, was the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was (and still is) a predominantly black church, led by The Rev. Paul Washington. The sermon was delivered by Charles Willie. The procession was led by Barbara Harris, who went on to become the first female Bishop. These key figures all happen to be black. Imagine trying to tell this story as a story about white women. How does that shift the story?
Needless to say, we are doing some deep work to figure out how to best weave all of these narratives into The Philadelphia Elevenfilm. Stay tuned for more updates and a big launch in May!
The work Welcome 2019! I'm working on a clear vision for the kind of work I do and how to make it sustainable. I am also putting together some new workshops on building audience, and making your first film. More soon!
In the meantime, check out our first press coverage for Councilwoman. "An upcoming documentary, Councilwoman, examines how she [Carmen Castillo] navigates her working-class life and the political world.” Learn more about hosting a screening here.
What I'm thinking about I've allowed myself some time to take a deep dive into identifying myself and my vision. So, who am I? I am a nerd who loves to harvest and eat food straight from mother earth. I also am a mother with a passion for parenting. I am a white class-privileged woman, doing my best to navigate raising children of color in a bi-cultural Dominican/American household.
This work has led me back to the book that most inspires my work: Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History.I am also inspired by all the people who have shown us a taste of a world where all humans are in alignment with each other and have the resources they need for fulfillment.
"It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space." -Pema Chödrön
The work COUNCILWOMAN is screening around the country (finally!). Do you need some inspiration? Hop on over to the film web site to find a screening or host your own.
THE PHILADELPHIA ELEVEN We are still tallying the results of the snail mail request for archival materials and funds for the Philadelphia Eleven film project. There is so much enthusiasm! It keeps me going.
The stories I am hearing are stunning: The Episcopal Church approved of women's ordination officially in 1976. But it doesn't seem to be the end of the journey. Perhaps that was the beginning. I've heard all kinds of things in recent weeks. Here are just a couple.
"Well, I'll tell you~ I still don't like women priests....but you're ok. You're not too much of a woman...."
"I've always thought you'd make a wonderful clergy wife!"
What I'm thinking about The big question on my mind these days is this: Where does my work come into alignment with others?
I am trying out a new ritual. Each month I will post something about what I'm working on. It's a behind-the-scenes of independent media work; and a little bit of a muse on what I've been thinking about.
The work. I've decided to mail a traditional letter solicitation to a list of 1,500 for my most recent project in development about the women priests who were ordained in 1974. In this digital age of high stakes online crowdfunding, is this still a viable option? I will be stuffing envelopes all week. The physical nature of this work is fulfilling in some old-school way.
COUNCILWOMAN will launch with a community screening in NYC on November 13th. Get free tickets here if you are in the area. Or share with a group based in New York City that would connect with the film.
The Master Class on COUNCILWOMAN's lessons learned is coming soon! After seven years, the stumbles are as valuable as the successes. They range from lessons from the field (what to shoot, when to shoot, best use of grant funds); to fundraising (how to put together a trailer for fundraising); to the edit (when is your film done?); to the rollout (how do you reach your audience?). Do you know of a group of aspiring filmmakers who would like to be the first group?
What I'm thinking about. A vision and a goal are so important. The mundane of the everyday needs a larger purpose. I think about this for myself and for my children. As I reflect on both I realize how intertwined my goals are with theirs. How do they build on each other? How can career goals and parenting goals be one vision? What is the shared vision that guides our family?