Jennifer Reeder: "We are still living in a patriarchy." The filmmaking feminist and mother of three.
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Jennifer Reeder: "We are still living in a patriarchy."

08 april 2019

The filmmaking feminist and mother of three.

Berlinale 2019 has recently ended, which means that we have a large number of new talented filmmakers to get acquainted with. Today we are going to introduce you Jennifer Reeder - a Director from the US, who tells us about her passions, European cooperation, working with Creative Capital Grant and even her own social justice initiative.

All Small Bodies

A short film called All Small Bodies directed by Jennifer Reeder was released not long time ago. The distinguishing characteristic of this movie is that it was made with the help of European producers. The film was produced by Maike Höhne and Catherine Colas from Germany and Laura Heberton and Steven Hudosh the the US. Jennifer says: “All of them have been supportive fans of my previous films and thought it could be interesting to embark on a co-production.”

As soon as Reeder found out that they were going to shoot All Small Bodies in Germany, she came up with an idea to tell a German story. In her point of view, it only made sense to create a film which would cover some of the German traditions and have a national spirit. That’s exactly why Jennifer Reeder adapted a loose version of Hansel and Gretel, famous German fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm. Definitely the director decided to implement some innovations which actually differ the film from the original story. As a result, All Small Bodies became a kind of feminist and sci-fi movie about two young girls in the distant future. After the huge catastrophe they manage to survive and, being lost in the woods for a long time, awaken their extrasensory abilities. The world premiere of the film was in 2017 at the Vile Do Conde Film Festival in Porto Portugal. Jennifer remembers that she was fascinated with this experience and would happily make another film in Europe.

Favorite topic

Talking about Jennifer’s favorite storylines of the movies, she mentions that she has long liked the genre of the teen films, so it has become her passion. However, also adolescence is a beautiful time of human transitions and fits quite well in storytelling which the character is driven.

Knives and Skin

This year Jennifer took part in the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival where on the 9th of February, at the second day of the festival she introduced her feature length film Knives and Skin to the world. She tells: “I had an outstanding Berlinale 2019. This is my favorite festival and I was honored to premiere Knives and Skin there to 5 sold out screenings! I will always return to Berlinale when invited.”

Taking into consideration the fact that the director likes turning to the topic of adolescent girls and their emotional world, it becomes obvious that Knives and Skin also is about teen relationships. It tells the story of young girl’s disappearance which takes place somewhere in the Midwestern US and its effect on parents and other youngsters of the small town. Moreover, an interesting fact about this film is that it has received a funding from the Creative Capital Grant which is a very special organization which has been supporting creative people in absolutely different fields of work (for instance, visual artists, writers, filmmakers, performers etc) over a long period of time. The director comments: “This organization helps a person build and maintain a creative career. They helped me make connections to producers and other film financers as well as offer financial advice.”

Solo events

A recent collection of short films by Jennifer Reeder was featured in a solo event at a large number of film festivals such as the 2015 London Short Film festival, the 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival, the 2015 Glasgow Short Film Festival and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago also in 2015 and it isn’t the end of the list. The director remembers: “I really loved my profile at International Short Film Oberhausen. I was thrilled with that festival very much and I was honored to bring so many of my films there to show all all of them in one place. The audience for these solo events are always so enthusiastic and supportive. I am fortunate to have such a wide fan base.”

Tracers Book Club

Jennifer is a founder of the social justice initiative called Tracers Book Club. She wanted to start a conversation across generations and genders about feminism either of the word or the concept. Feminism is one way to promote human equality but still many people are not willing or just afraid to call themselves feminists. Tracers Book Club is meant to raise awareness and foster conversations about equality and inclusiveness.

Gender equality

With the regard to the attitude towards gender equality and the role of the gender in modern society, Reeder believes: “We are still living in a patriarchy, consequently it is pretty more difficult for women to become successful and achieve their goals than for men. In addition to this, in some areas, like the US under the Trump administration, we are regressing. We must fight to close the gender gap every moment of every day.” However, gender is not the only one area of inequality. Also it is extremely important for everyone to be aware of race, class, ability, sexuality etc. All of this is inextricably connected.

Teaching at the university

Moreover, Jennifer Reeder is so an all-around intellectually developed person that she manages to combine working with a few kinds of activities and find time for her three children. She is also working at the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois, teaching courses related to filmmaking. The director says: “Until I can’t maintain myself and my family by only filmmaking, I do mind teaching. I love my students. Furthermore, teaching keeps me current and fresh, as not only I teach my students, but they also teach me to some extent. They can contribute their insights concerning our contemporary society and its issues.”

Despite the fact that Jennifer has already made some feature length films, now she does have ideas for some more. Therefore, we just have to wait until the release of her next film-masterpiece.

Click here for more information on Jennifer Reeder.
Over de auteur: Sofia Piven

Sofia Piven is currently studying Journalism and International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

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