COLUMBIA, MO --
The annual Citizen Jane Film Festival, which celebrates independent film by independent women, is slated for Thursday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 6 on the Stephens College campus and throughout downtown Columbia.
This homegrown festival has seen tremendous growth since it's inception in 2008, with an average increase in attendance of nearly 50% each year and it draws on the dedication of nearly 300 volunteers from the community as well as students from Stephens College to ensure its success. Citizen Jane has garnered praise and recognition throughout the film industry and beyond. MovieMaker Magazine, the voice for independent film and filmmakers, named Citizen Jane one of the top 25 "coolest film festivals in the world" in 2015 and one of the top 50 festivals "worth the entry fee" for 2016.
The Citizen Jane program features some of the most daring and accomplished works by women filmmakers from around the world complete with interactive panels with filmmakers, in-depth workshops with industry professionals and fun and festive parties, all in four action-packed days and nights.
According to Citizen Jane's new Festival Director, Barbie Banks, the festival has an important role to play within the community and globally as it continues to fight for gender equality within the film industry.
Festival attendees settle in for a screening during the
2015 installment of Citizen Jane.
"The way I see it, 'film' has two purposes: one is to entertain and the other is to be a vehicle for developing empathy," Banks says. "Citizen Jane accomplishes both through excellent and entertaining films but also by promoting the voices of women and the importance of the female perspective and experience. This festival is certainly not just for females or feminists: It's a place and community where everyone is welcome and invited and encouraged to broaden their personal experience through these films and programs."
The 2016 lineup consists of over 90 films, including 15 feature-length films and nine short-film programs screening throughout the weekend. The films run the gamut of fiction, nonfiction and animation and the themes for the shorts programs include "Dance + Film," "Emerging Voices," "Family Fun!," "Secret Lives of Girls" and more.
"We're out there getting the best films possible to bring to Columbia," Banks says. "I'm really excited to share this year's lineup with our loyal local festival goers and our dedicated attendees and first-timers from across the country. Our programmers have done an exceptional job."
Banks says some of the films and topics can be quite heavy, but they try their best to strike a balance between weight and levity so attendees come away feeling that life, and the festival, are worth celebrating.
Although the festival officially kicks off on Friday night, there are several activities and programs that take place leading up to opening night. Most are open to the public.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, there's a bicycle wine "hop" called Velo, Vino, Vici, where attendees pedal from venue to venue downtown for wine, snacks and short films at each location focused on the importance of the bicycle in shaping women's lives throughout history.
The Citizen Jane Summit, which is billed as an engaging discussion that allows industry experts and a public audience brainstorm ways to better support female filmmakers through crowd funding, mentoring and activism, takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2 in Senior Hall on Stephens College campus.
The Citizen Jane Film School, which runs in conjunction with the festival, takes place from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3 at Columbia Access Television's Studio A, also located on the Stephens campus. The Film School features a panel of female filmmakers and industry professionals and focuses on in-depth discussions on the state of women in the industry. The Film School is a collaboration between the festival, Stephens College and CATV. "The afternoon's panels will be filmed like a TV show and will be screened locally on CATV and its website," Banks says. "It's a great way for volunteers and students to get hands-on experience producing a television show, which I think is really cool." The Film School is open to anyone interested in learning more about filmmaking and current topics related to the film industry.
The festivities officially get underway Friday night at 6 p.m. with an opening night reception and screening of Raising Bertie at the historic Tiger Hotel, 23 S. 8th Street. The opening night reception features food, drink and a dance performance by the Stephens College School of Dance prior to the screening. Afterward, the activities shift to Logboat Brewery for Citizen Jane Under the Moon, an outdoor screening of short horror films complete with live music and s'mores. Citizen Jane Under the Moon is free and open to the public.
Films begin playing on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 9:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day and into the evening at four different screening venues throughout Columbia's walkable downtown. Saturday evening there will be a female comedy review at Hitt Street Records from 10-11:30 p.m., followed by a late night dance party at The Social Room, Columbia's speakeasy night club.
Films continue on Sunday from 10 a.m. and throughout the day. The closing night film, Ovarian Psycos, screens at 8 p.m. at the Macklanburg Theater. Ovarian Psycos tells the stories of the charismatic leader and members of a bicycle crew on the east side of Los Angeles as they ride to "build family and protect their local neighborhood from the violence that plagues the larger community."
As for Banks, who has a background in higher education and non-profit work, she says her foray into film festivals was an organic process, but one that she has thoroughly enjoyed. She started as a volunteer for both Citizen Jane and True/False Film Fest, Columbia's celebrated documentary film festival, and her roles with each continued to grow. Banks spent the last four years as the Travel and Hospitality Coordinator for True/False before being selected as the festival director for Citizen Jane. "I absolutely fell in love with being a part of these festivals. It was a perfect fit for my skills and passions and I still can't believe that this is my job! I'm so grateful for this incredible opportunity to help change the world for women in film through this amazing festival."
The Citizen Jane box office, which is located in the Columbia Foyer on the Stephens campus, opens on Tuesday, Nov. 1 and ticket sales go on every day of the festival, though hours vary.
Individual tickets and passes, including the all-access Insane Jane and the lesser Plane Jane, are on sale now online. To purchase passes and individual tickets, or to learn more about the films, programs or the fest in general, visit www.CitizenJaneFilmFestival.org.