Citizen Jane Film Festival returns to Columbia for another year of celebrating female filmmakers

Over the years, the internationally-known Citizen Jane Film Festival has strengthened the community of women in film.

Women are wildly unrepresented in the film industry — the Citizen Jane Film Festival aims to change that.

Founded at Stephens College in 2005, Citizen Jane “celebrates independent film by independent women” through “education, connection and artistic/unique experiences,” according to their website. Such experiences include a film series, filmmaking camp and, of course, the internationally-known film festival.

The Citizen Jane Film Festival is a major event for the city of Columbia, and has grown larger each and every year. This year, the event will take place Nov. 1-4.

Citizen Jane started out 13 years ago as a lecture series and digital filmmaking program, planned largely in part by Stephens College students. It was also the students who came up with the name.

The next year, Stephens College hosted the “Fem Film Women’s Symposium,” and the success of the female-centered event sparked the idea of making Citizen Jane into a feminist film festival.

Ultimately, in 2008, the Citizen Jane Film Festival was born. It showcased films by female filmmakers, and even attracted Academy Award-nominee “Trouble the Water.” The next year, the festival returned and attendance spiked up 50 percent. Such an increase in attendance signified that Citizen Jane meant something to people, and that it was not going anywhere.

The city of Columbia, as well as filmmakers and festival-goers from all over the world, have continued to support Citizen Jane over the past 11 years. Well known directors, producers and screenwriters have brought their films to the festival, such as Christine Vachon and Lena Dunham.

From beginners to professionals, Citizen Jane is the place for women filmmakers to be. The festival builds a community of female artists with a common goal, no matter their experience level.

The festival shows female-driven films, holds panel discussions with filmmakers and hosts a summit that aims to spark discussion over ways to empower women in the film industry. Each event is female-centered, truly making the event what I would call a feminist film festival.

Citizen Jane is more than just a film festival. It is a movement that empowers and supports talented women who deserve equality and success in a male-dominated field. Year by year, Citizen Jane is bridging the gender equality gap in the film industry.

Edited by Siena DeBolt | sdebolt@themaneater.com

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