Interview conducted by Marina Brafa
Natalie MacMahon is a Berlin-based actress, director, writer, translator, interpreter, voice over artist and presenter. Currently, she is working on the script of her first feature film Hot Scary Summer and on her Esperanto web series Malsano Nomata Amo (A Disease Called Loved) and organizing the Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin.
- Submissions to the festival are being accepted until October! -
Read Part One of the interview here. Natalie tells us about being a director in a male-dominated industry, her experiences at the Cannes film festival and how important it was to find her own way of working.
Marina Brafa: Last year you and your crew, all women working in film, founded the Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin. Where did this idea come from?
Natalie MacMahon: There are a few festivals for female filmmakers, especially in the U.S. But I noticed many times that I did not want to submit my films to these festivals because the description of the festival - why they do what they do and what the festival is about - was too extreme.
MB: In which sense?
NM: A lot of them send out a very clear feminist message. I think it is possible to showcase female directors without excluding or being against anyone else. I can say that I personally did not identify with their message and did not think my films would fit. Therefore, I wanted to create an alternative festival, a platform for female directors whose films do not have to be about a certain theme.
MB: But you still screen films made by women only?
NM: We show films where the most important roles are filled by women and where the team is mostly female. We could have a film with a male director with a mostly-female cast with female themes. That’s what I wanted: to be more open and to create a place to connect with each other.
MB: Berlin has a festival called the “Berlin Feminist Film Week.” What is the difference between your festival and this one?
NM: We are not their competitor because we are not a feminist festival. As I said, we want to give women a platform, support new talents and show international productions. In addition, we present films from countries with underrepresented film markets. We also want to include workshops and panels in our festival about topics that are unclear to many filmmakers, for example financing. A topic many people do not want to hear about, especially creative types [laughs]. In that sense, it is less a cultural event but a platform by filmmakers for other filmmakers based on our own experience.
MB: On the Female Filmmakers Festival’s website you state that the focus will be on Ireland and Spain. How will this be reflected in the festival’s program?
NM: We will have special screenings with films from Spain and Ireland and feature music from these countries. In two years, Italy will be one of our featured countries, partly because we are already working with an established Italian music festival, the Siren Festival. This year they are including film on their program for the first time so we added a Music Video category to our festival.
MB: How many submissions did you receive so far?
NM: As of right now, we have received around 450 submissions including short and feature films and music videos from all parts of the world. And we are still accepting submissions until October! We added a pre-event in February, which will take place during the Berlinale, because we have so many good submissions and we want to give people the chance to connect before the actual festival in June.
MB: The pre-event in February 2019 will be during the Berlinale but is not directly associated with it?
NM: Correct. The pre-event is not connected to the Berlinale but takes place at the same time just to make people aware of our new Female Filmmakers Festival. At the pre-event, we will show some short films, the audience will get to vote for the best one and this short film is going to open our festival in June.
MB: That’s a good marketing idea!
NM: Yes, but we also have good films and people like to connect! It’s a chance to test the waters.
MB: Do you think that it helps holding the FFF in Berlin?
NM: Yes, Berlin attracts creative people from all over the world. People here love culture and make time to attend events. There are film festivals about pretty much everything in Berlin. I still think in a way there are never enough!
MB: Do you have any advice for women who want to organize a film festival or are in the film business in general?
NM: Don’t overthink, just do something. If you have an idea, if you have a script, you should just find a way to do it, for example as a short film. Learn more step by step and develop your own voice.
MB: So, “Just do it”?
NB: [laughs] Yeah, easier said than done!
MB: Many many thanks Natalie for your time!
You want to know more about Natalie's film projects?
Check out her Website and follow her on Facebook!
Also, find more info about the Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin here - submissions are open until October!