Bad Feminists Making Films

November 30, 2017

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

2439 18th St NW


Preview of works by women filmmakers draws attention to the decline of U.S. women directors in Hollywood and new voices in independent documentary film


WHAT: Film screenings and discussion exploring what matters for “bad feminists” (Roxane Gay, 2014) behind the lens and in front of the camera. Following a screening of work by film directors from EthnoCine (a feminist film collective), D.C.-based Director and Rhiza Collective co-founder Maggie Lemere will facilitate a conversation about the experiences of women filmmakers. The discussion will include the women’s filmmaking journeys, biggest cringe-worthy moments behind the camera, and how they have learned to navigate male-dominated spaces, while cultivating long-term relationships with artists, activists, and communities along the way.


WHEN: Thursday, November 30, 2017, 7-10 pm. Event space will open at 7pm; Screening and discussion 7:30-9pm; Post-screening networking & roof time with filmmakers 9-10pm.


WHERE: The Lookout, 2439 18th St NW, Washington, District of Columbia. RSVP.


WHO: Maggie Lemere, documentary filmmaker and cofounder of Rhiza Collective; Maisarah Lai (Abuelita Outside); Emily Hong (Above and Below the Ground); Mariangela Mihai Jordan (Never Lose Heart); and Ian Fay, Founder of The Lookout D.C. Sponsored by the Association for Feminist Anthropology, the event is an official off-site installation of the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.


WHY: According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the number of women filmmakers in independent film is stagnating, and in Hollywood is actually declining. In 2016, women made up an astounding 7% of directors and 5% of cinematographers in the US’ highest grossing films; they fared only marginally better in the independent film world. In this environment, women making films remains a radical act.


ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS: Miasarah Lai is a Chicago based filmmaker. She holds a BA in Performing and Media Arts from Cornell University and MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University. From the Lower East Side, New York City, Lai’s Puerto Rican-Chinese heritage and diverse neighborhood shaped her global interests in visualizing alternative female and minority narratives. She prioritizes the physicality and performative role of the cinematographer in the dance between subject and storytellers. Her work has screened at film festivals including Athens Ethnofest, Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival, & Wathann Film Festival. When she isn’t working on her own projects, Miasarah produces digital content for other organizations: producing, shooting, editing, sound mixing.

Film: From her apartment, Maria sings fragmented melodies to the East River. Captured by her granddaughter, Miasarah returns to the Lower East Side, NYC to chronicle Maria’s everyday experiences with Alzheimers. Miasarah pieces together family history from memories embodied by Maria’s routine and plays the rhythms her abuelita communicates with. As the family matriarch, Maria’s home served as the family’s backbone for 47 years, but rumors of the city selling the projects, now coveted real estate, threatens to get Abuelita Outside.
Emily Hong is a Seoul-born and New York-raised feminist anthropologist, filmmaker, and co-founder of Rhiza Collective and EthnoCine Films. Emily has directed several collaborative films including Get By (2014), Nobel Nok Dah (2015), and For My Art (2016), which have explored issues of solidarity and labor, womanhood and identity in the refugee experience, and the gendered spectatorship of performance art. Her research, media projects, and activist engagements are largely rooted in Thailand and Burma, where she has spent a decade, first as a human rights campaigner and trainer, and later as a filmmaker and researcher. Emily’s films and video installations have been screened in Athens, Chiang Mai, Lisbon, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and Yangon.

Film: Above and Below the Ground tells the story of daring indigenous women activists and rock musicians who come together in the ongoing struggle against the Myitsone Dam and for peace and environmental self-determination across their native Kachinland. Through protest, prayer, and music, they test the boundaries of tentative democratic reform in Myanmar, and work to create a future in which native peoples have the right to care for and protect their own lands and natural resources.

Mariangela Mihai Jordan is a Romanian Anthropology and Film PhD Candidate at Cornell University, NY. In the past, she has worked on issues of refugee political resettlement at the Emory Center for Ethics and the International Rescue Committee, Atlanta. Her current research looks at overlapping nationalisms, identity and ethnicity on the India-Burma border. Select film projects: To Uphold the Law (2014), a film exploring ideologies of nationalism and anti-drone activism in Upstate N.Y.; For My Art (2016), a two-channel video installation exploring the sensorial landscape of transition-era Burma/Myanmar through the figure of the performance artist; and Queer Baby (in production), an ethnofiction film that explores the subtleties of queerness across Western, Middle Eastern and Eastern-European locations and temporalities.

 Situated between India and Burma, host to a nation of one million Mizos, Mizoram is a postcolonial borderland riddled with a strong, yet contested, desire for ethnic, religious, and moral purity. Mihai’s ethnographic film, Never Lose Heart, is filmed over the duration of one year and builds on her ongoing anthropological research that explores Mizo nationalism at the edge of the Indian state. The film explores the Young Mizo Association (YMA)’s role in the making and maintaining of Mizoness. It takes Mizoness not just as an ethnic and national identity but also as a collective condition predicated on a shared moral vision virulently promoted by the YMA. Never Lose Heart takes an in-depth longitudinal look at how the YMA not only ‘dreams’ of an independent Christian-Mizo nation, but also at how it manifests and realizes this shared desire.



Maggie Lemere is a filmmaker, oral historian and storytelling and social change strategist whose projects focus on social and environmental issues. She has worked across the U.S., Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe as a storyteller, refugee advocate and human rights and storytelling trainer. She is the editor of Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Burma’s Military Regime (McSweeney’s and Voice of Witness, 2011; NDSP Books, 2016), a Public Historian for the Washington DC Oral History Collaborative, and a leader of “Storytelling for Changemakers” with Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Her storytelling clients include the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security. Her film with GoodFight Media, Everyone a Changemaker: The Story of Pinelands North, won the Rockefeller Foundation’s international Storytelling Challenge award in 2015. Maggie is passionate about expanding representation and voice in film, and creating high-quality and high-impact collaborative filmmaking projects. She received her Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University.


EthnoCine is a collective composed of visual anthropologists engaged in feminist and queer research combining the cinematic techniques of verité and sensory ethnography with the collaborative tools of ethno-fiction and anthropology partagée across a range of landscapes including the United States, Burma, Chile, Palestine, Iran, Turkey, Romania, India, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.


Rhiza is a women-led collective that uses storytelling, healing, organizing, and research to support social transformation and environmental justice.


The Association for Feminist Anthropology is a section of the American Anthropological Association which aims to foster the development of feminist analytic perspectives in all dimensions of anthropology.


The Lookout is D.C.’s premiere creative co-production workspace, located in Adams Morgan.



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