When thinking of great composers, there is no shortage of household names. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky. It is unlikely, however, that many, if any that come to mind are female. Judith Lynn Stillman is remedying that imbalance.
Stillman is a professor of music and RIC’s artist-in-residence and has been producing prolifically through the pandemic. Her quarantine opera, “Essential Business” which she composed towards the beginning of COVID-19, won first prize in the international OperaVision #OperaHarmony competition, and featured Metropolitan Opera star baritone Will Liverman. The film of the opera was also presented earlier this year at RIC. Most recently, she has dedicated herself to creating a film about talented and inventive yet often forgotten female composers of the past.
Her new, groundbreaking film “Women Trailblazers in Music: Noteworthy Composers” will depict the extraordinary lives of these female composers across a span of twelve centuries and feature their revolutionary compositions. Stillman shares that the incredible ways these women changed music should have earned them recognition and acclaim, but instead, their music has been routinely forgotten when it should be lauded.
Stillman cites her inspiration to create the film as part of her ongoing dedication to giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has created projects addressing the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, refugees, artists of color, and the climate crisis.
While COVID-19 caused difficulties, it also resulted in opportunities for building connections for Stillman. “The pandemic created the necessity for a remote platform, which afforded me the opportunity to work with artists from all over North America. Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Chicago, Vancouver, Hartford, in addition to Boston and Providence,” says Stillman. She adds, “I am filled with so much gratitude to all my amazing colleagues who joined forces with me to be a part of this groundbreaking film and help bring the project to fruition.”
Stillman shares a bit about the first of many composers featured in her film, “It begins in 9th century Constantinople with the Byzantine composer Kassia. She became an abbess, and that ensured the longevity of her music for twelve centuries. Hers was a calculated career choice. Many of her hymns are used in the Orthodox Church liturgy to this day.” She adds, “Women composers had to be quite clever. For example, several of the featured composers married music publishers to secure the survival of their music. Some adopted male pseudonyms. It took a lot of ingenuity.” She also emphasized the importance of recognizing Florence Price, another composer featured in her film and the first Black woman to have her compositions performed by a major symphony orchestra.
Stillman also has a personal connection with her film. She explains, “[That] my talented mother and grandmother’s musical careers never took off in the male-dominated societies. This propelled me to champion women composers who were repressed, undervalued, discouraged, and forgotten due to the politics of their existence.”
“In Western music history, women were permitted to be the interpreters, but not the creators. They were not encouraged to pursue music professionally. Gender inequality has been rampant throughout the industry.”
The world currently, Stillman shares, is still not close to redressing this historic imbalance, but progress is slowly being made. “The climate for female composers is still problematic as the dominance of male composers remains strong, but the tide is shifting. Slowly. Statistics confirm that only a handful of male composers comprise the majority of all programming. We need to encourage and empower women composers and make a concerted, pun intended, effort to redress the historic imbalance and harness momentum for change. Many have earned a crucial place in Western history and should be household names, but are merely in the process of being fully recognized and celebrated.”
The film will premiere for the public on November 4th at 7:30 PM in Sapinsley Hall, 600 Mt Pleasant Ave, Providence, RI 02908, United States. The film, commissioned by FirstWorks and Artists & Activists Productions, will be followed by a live concert featuring the works of several female composers. Admission to see this exciting film is free, but registering for tickets in advance is mandatory because of social distancing and contact tracing protocols. Unregistered guests will not be admitted. Tickets can be obtained through the box office at Rhode Island College by emailing email@example.com, calling (401) 456-8144, or visiting in person.
This article was also published on the Rhode Island College website and Motif Magazine.
A warm welcome to new WIFVNE members!
Learn more about and connect with WIFVNE members by visiting the WIFVNE Member Directory.
Veleka Gray is a member with WiFM Lousiana and has joined WIFVNE as well! Veleka is a member of SAG-AFTRA and NATAS, and works as a Voice Actor, Screenwriter, and EP; check out her credits on IMDb. Connect or follow Veleka on your favorite social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vimeo (Veleka Gray), or TikTok (VelekaVeleka).
Lisa Simmons is the Artistic Director of the Roxbury International Film Festival or ROXFEST. Find her on LinkedIn.
THE 2021-2022 Woods Hole Film Festival Programming Fellowship
Are you interested in learning how to program a film festival? If so, apply to be a Fellow in the second Woods Hole Film Festival Programming Fellowship. The Fellowship is a program designed to develop a new cohort of Film Festival Programmers. The Fellowship is an opportunity to learn the basics of how to review and consider film festival submissions, develop a multi-faceted Festival program, create a line-up and schedule and learn about the film festival industry as a whole.
About the Fellowship
The Woods Hole Film Festival will select 4-6 Fellows to participate virtually as part of the screening committee and programming team. The Fellowship dates are November 2021 through August 2022.
Application deadline: Monday, November 8, 2021, 5:00 pm EST.
Isabelle Germino: Production Assistant, Production Secretary, Writer. Follow her on Instagram @isabellegermino
Jessica Hankey: recipient of a 2021 LEF Pre-production award
Paige McPhee: Production Assistant. Connect with her on LinkedIn
Doc Society is seeking someone with a deep interest in non-fiction storytelling and a broad knowledge of climate-related issues to join their team as Climate Story Fund Officer.
The Climate Story Fund supports stories and impact campaigns from around the world that move us closer to a climate just and biodiverse future. The global fund is open to creative non-fiction projects, including shorts, animation and episodic documentaries, as well as podcasts, AR/VR.
This is a full-time work-from-home position, with a preference for someone able to work within the Eastern Time Zone (UTC−05:00) working hours.
Learn more about the role, responsibilities, and qualifications here
Apply by November 1, 2021
About DOC SOCIETY
The DOC SOCIETY is an innovative non-profit organisation founded in 2005 that works with the most inspiring independent documentary filmmakers all over the world. They are a team of around 20 people working from offices in London and New York.
MacDowell has announced it will go from three annual application deadlines and corresponding seasons to two. That means the next application deadline will be February 10, 2022 for residencies during the period September of 2022 through February of 2023. To go along with that change, the admissions department has decided to temporarily suspend a longstanding requirement that applicants supply reference letters as part of the application process.
MacDowell accepts applications from artists working in the following disciplines: architecture, film/video arts, interdisciplinary arts, literature, music composition, theatre, and visual arts. The sole criterion for acceptance is artistic excellence, which MacDowell defines in a pluralistic and inclusive way. MacDowell encourages applications from artists representing the widest possible range of perspectives and demographics, and welcomes artists engaging in the broadest spectrum of artistic practice and investigating an unlimited array of inquiries and concerns. To that end, emerging as well as established artists are invited to apply. Applicants who are enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs as of the date of application are ineligible for a residency and therefore cannot apply. Doctoral candidates who have finished all coursework may apply.
For more information and to apply, please visit the MacDowell website.
The Fall/Winter 2022-2023 Deadline is February 10, 2022.
Residencies: Sep 1, 2022 – Feb 28, 2023.
Accepting Applications: Nov 1, 2021 – Feb 10, 2022.
WIFVNE is a chapter member of WIFT-US. All chapter members of WIFT-US voted on this statement to share in unity.
We, the undersigned, support the protection of workers and their rights to safe workspaces, reasonable work hours and rest, and living wages. As advocates of people underrepresented and under-protected in the entertainment industry, it is imperative that we uphold safe and regenerative working conditions, especially as we all continue to weather the strain of the COVID 19 pandemic.
NewEnglandFilm.com has opened the free call for proposals for the 3rd Annual New England Film Star Award, a grant of over $3,000 in equipment rental, memberships, courses, and one-on-one mentorship. Application Deadline: October 31, 2021.
The mission of the award is to benefit a filmmaker who has been marginalized/minoritized in mainstream cinema due to their race, gender, sexuality, class, able-bodiedness, and/or other factors.
Finalists will be announced in November 2021, and the winner presented at the Women in Film/Video New England Annual Meeting in December 2021.
Learn more and apply here.
2021 Awardee Will Receive
2021 Finalists Will Receive
Wavelength Films, the award-winning production studio behind Sundance hits CUSP, FEELS GOOD MAN, and FAREWELL AMOR, has announced the return of their annual initiative, the WAVE Grant. Now in its third year, the WAVE Grant, which stands for “Women At the Very Edge,” is a $5,000 grant and mentorship program that aims to help a first-time female or non-binary filmmaker of color with the production of their first short documentary or narrative film (under 30 minutes). Wavelength also announces that the program has been so successful that they will be awarding the mentorship program and grants to the top 5 filmmakers this year.
HERE is a video from past winners discussing the grant and how much the mentorship program from Wavelength has helped them complete their projects and moved along their filmmaking careers.
Applications open September 13th and will close December 1st, 2021. In addition to the $5,000 grant, Wavelength provides mentorship in the producing, development and post-production of the filmmaker’s short as well as fundraising and distribution strategy.
Applicants can apply here on Wavelength’s website.
For more about the WAVE grant, Wavelength’s mission, films, and upcoming releases, please visit their website at www.wavelengthproductions.com.
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