Pride of the Ocean Alumni
Since 2009, smart and engaging people like you have been coming to Pride of the Ocean for the unique experience of enjoying an ocean cruise and a film festival together. Past passengers have included everyone from cruise aficionados, to film enthusiasts, to people who simply like to travel, but it has been getting to meet and know our aspiring young filmmakers that has been one of the main attractions over the past three years, and into our fourth. As George Gene Gustines said in his New York Times article, “The true delight of the trip wasâ€¦the friends we made.” Come meet some of those friends, many of which you could meet on our 2013 Alaska cruise, as we look back on some of our past young aspiring filmmakers and ask, “Where are they now?”
Pride of the Ocean’s CineSLAM has taken on an entirely new inspiring landscape by heading out to sea â€“ offering a full retreat with special guests, seminars, panels, industry knowledgeâ€¦ and of course the all-important CineSLAM Film Slam workshops.Â The Film Slam Seminars provide an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to workshop their projects in focused, peer-driven critique sessions. Â Susi Walsh, Executive Director of the Center for Independent Documentary, which sponsors the workshops, facilitates on board the ship.Â Creating this world outside of the everyday, for filmmakers to concentrate on their art, has succeeded in allowing the work to flourish, and the talent has indeed bloomed.
Take a walk with us through the garden of successful careers, and meet some of our past CineSLAM participants and see where have their paths led.
Two alums â€“ Cheryl Furjanic and Yoruba Richen â€“ will join us on Pride of the Ocean 2013 in August. Cheryl continues in the world of water, her award-winning Sync or Swim documentary of an Olympic-hopeful synchronized swimming team giving way to BACK ON BOARD, the story of Greg Louganis. Yoruba is bringing to the Norwegian Pearl her completed and much-anticipated documentary THE NEW BLACK, chronicling the complicated relationship of the civil rights and LGBT movements, after working on it at the 2011 Slam.
Other alums are making waves all over the independent film world â€“ Sam Berliner joined the 2011 seminars with his film Genderbusters, and has continued his groundbreaking work in Trans New Wave filmmaking, that he described as â€œfilms [that] move past traditional coming out or transition nuts and bolts stories to films with characters that embody their sexual orientations and gender identities without calling attention to it, nodding to an audience who already understands the implied history and experience, and giving the film the freedom to focus on the story.” Genderbusters has gone around the world at international film festivals, and Sam is now working on getting it into schools, LGBTQ centers, and PFLAG chapters. Most exciting, this year he has the perfect place to work in this arena, as the newly named Festival Director of Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festvial! â€œAs a trans filmmaker myself, I have a deep passion for and commitment to trans and queer cinema, and I am very excited to run this amazing festival with the folks from Three Dollar Bill Cinema.”
Just as Pride of the Ocean offers a safe space for filmmakers to explore the diversity of filmmaking in theme and style, Sam describes the importance of that space as emulated by festivals such as CineSLAM. Regarding Translations he states, â€œA transgender film festival offers a safe space to celebrate, honor, mourn, learn, grow, relate, cry, empathize, accept, laugh… It is a space that we can excitedly return to each year to keep tabs on this ever shifting and beautifully evolving community.” In addition to his work on the festival, he continues to make his own films, currently working on DATING SUCKS: A GENDERQUEER MISADVENTURE, an animated documentary webseries about the successes, failures and overall confusion of trying to date as a genderqueer/trans person.
Continuing in a different area of the transgender and gender nonconforming exploration, comes the work of Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, renowned for their film OUT IN THE SILENCE about the announcement of Joe’s marriage to another man hitting his home town, a conservative rural community in Pennsylvania. Workshopped at an early CineSLAM Seminar, Joe and Dean took the film across the country to small towns and rural areas, in a campaign to provide â€œa model for grassroots efforts to fight prejudice and discrimination.” The partners have turned their camera from their own story to an exciting new PBS film, supported by ITVS and Pacific Islanders in Communications, that â€œbrings the powerful perspective of the Pacific Islands to bear on one of the most important and hotly contested issues of our time: dignity, respect and human rights for transgender and gender nonconforming people around the world.”
Wilson and Hamer note that high profile films about transgender people over the yearsÂ have tended to focus on the prejudice, discrimination, and hostility that trans people face. Their new film KUMU HINA celebrates the still-existing ancient Hawaiian tradition of acceptance of mahu, people who display both male and female characteristics. The filmmakers state, â€œLike many ancient societies, pre-contact Hawaiians regarded thoseâ€¦ characteristics as gifted and special. They called these people mahu and valued and respected them as caretakers of family and guardians of culture.” Despite two centuries of colonization and repression, the tradition continues, and â€œâ€¦is embodied by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, an extraordinary native Hawaiian who is both a proud and confident mahu, or transgender woman, and an honored and respected kumu, or teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader.”
The new film will play major festivals and be broadcast on national public television, but much like the goals of CineSLAM, Hamer and Wilson acknowledge that they are â€œmost excited about following the trail blazed by OUT IN THE SILENCE, and will be using [KUMU HINA] as a tool for community outreach, organizing and educationâ€¦ [and] to launch an exciting community engagement campaign aimed at igniting social change – Hawaiian-style, or as Hina says, â€˜with acceptance and aloha for all.'”
Following the international work of CineSLAM alums, we arrive at the award-winning work of Yun Suh, and her film CITY OF BORDERS, â€œwhich follows the community at the only gay bar in Jerusalem where Israelis and Palestinians share a common need for belonging and acceptance while facing extraordinary risks for challenging society’s greatest taboos.” City of Borders premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival where it won a special Teddy (Audience) Award and continues to screen worldwide from Toronto to Tokyo. In 2008, an early look at this theme in FREEDOM ON THE ROCKS won the Chessie Award for Best Short at CineSLAM, and CITY OF BORDERS was featured on the very first Pride of the Ocean LGBT Film Festival, bringing the unique CineSLAM experience into an even more inspiring atmosphere, onto the high seas.
Back in the United States, Ryan Harrington is director of documentary and programming at the Tribeca Film Institute, and â€œdevelops other initiatives and programs that support non-fiction filmmaking.” Ryan participated in multiple panels on Pride of the Ocean 2011. At that time he was
independently working on the powerful full-length documentary Hungry In America, with filmmakers Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush and Participant Media, that explores why so many people in the USA go without food, and what can be done about it.
The final film, A PLACE AT THE TABLE: HUNGRY IN AMERICA, was completed in 2012 and was shown at Sundance among other festivals, and shared the stories of three people struggling with food insecurity, along with commentary from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; regular citizens like Pastor Bob Wilson and teachers Leslie Nichols and Odessa Cherry; and activists such as Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges.
From the United States, we travel far afield toâ€¦ the stars? The feature film CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME, from prolific writer and director Madeleine Olnek and produced by Laura Terruso of DYKE DOLLAR fame, both alums of the 2010 CineSLAM. Olnek was drawn to the independent film scene for its more cutting edge approach, producing several short films between 2006 â€“ 2009, and certainly found that cutting edge approach in the CineSLAM Seminars. CODEPENDENT LESBIAN premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and has been traveling every since. Asked in an interview just a few months ago what draws her to lesbian feminist comedy rather than drama, Olnek states, â€œI think to make a comedy is to give something back to the world. A drama, not so much. Life is already dramatic. Comedy gives people joy.”
That theme can be seen in Terruso’s work as well, with her film DYKE DOLLAR, workshopped at CineSLAM, a film she tags as, â€œAmerican economic angst and gay panic explodes in suburban New Jersey.” Terruso continues to produce, write and direct, and her work has screened at venues such as Lincoln Center, MOMA and the Anthology Film Archives and at over sixty film festivals worldwide including SXSW, Sundance, Rooftop Films, The Sarasota Film Festival, The Viennale, Brisbane International Film Festival, Rio De Janeiro International Film Festival, among many others. Her latest works include Doris & The Intern, Bum Future and It Gets Bitter.
We are delighted to celebrate the ongoing success of so many filmmakers who found the individual space that is CineSLAM, and expect the trend to continue. Just this month, as this article goes to press, we learn that Bryan Horch, who will be screening SPOONERS on Pride of the Ocean 2013, has just had the film accepted into Frameline as the “Fun in Boys Shorts” selection to be screened in the Castro Theater, Toronto Inside Out, and Seattle International Film Festival on the same weekend. SPOONERS will also be at the Boston LGBT Film Festival and at the MFA.
Pride of the Ocean is proud to feature so many incredible, talented filmmakers and work directly with them in the CineSLAM seminars. Nothing is so enjoyable as having them back on the ship to display finished work!