COLUMBIA — The Citizen Jane Film Festival opened Friday night with a screening of Jillian Schlesinger's debut film, "Maidentrip."
The documentary chronicles 14-year-old Laura Dekker's voyage around the world by boat. Dekker fought a court battle with Dutch authorities to be allowed to leave her home in Holland and set sail. Dekker was the youngest person to sail around the world alone and captured much of the trip on camera.
Schlesinger, 29, the film's director and producer, shared her artistic vision and her experience with the Citizen Jane Film Festival:
Q. What inspired you to make the film "Maidentrip"?
A. The primary thing that drew me to the story was the idea of a young woman taking on the government, the media and a lot of people in her community and culture. To be 13 and 14 and really fight for what you want, I think is really powerful. Characters like Laura are really pretty spectacular in that a young person can go and see that film — and particularly a young woman — can go and see that they're capable and can conquer the world. I've always been really captivated by seafaring stories, but they're full of men. And here was this seafaring story with a young woman at the helm. I thought it would be a really exciting adventure to go on, to work with her and sort of elevate her voice in the conversation.
Q. What drew you to filmmaking?
A. Storytelling. I loved telling stories. The thing that's great about film is that there's something kind of finite that you can come back to and hold onto.
Q. Why do you think Citizen Jane Film Festival is important?
A. I love that Citizen Jane exists because I love the fact that you have a forum to discuss issues that affect us as women filmmakers and as filmmakers in general. I think it's very important to have a sense of community among women doing this work. I work with a lot of women. I collaborate with a lot of women, and I think it's very important to support each other. Citizen Jane is great because you get to meet a lot of women from different generations, which is really valuable because it gives us an opportunity to connect in a really personal and intimate way about our craft and what we're all doing in the world of filmmaking.
Q. What films at Citizen Jane have you enjoyed?
A. ("Remembering Wei-Y Fang, Remembering Myself") was such a beautiful first-person film, and I felt totally enveloped by her experience. I really enjoyed ("Swim Little Fish Swim") and also thought it was really beautiful. It was interesting to see her depictions of Brooklyn, where I live, as a director from France. It was a very beautiful, romanticized vision of Brooklyn and the struggles of young artists. I found the characters and their struggles very relatable and recognizable.
Q. Who are your favorite female directors?
A. I find Lucy Walker documentaries really inspiring. Lucy's films kind of cover a broad range of topics, but she's not defined by a particular style. Especially as a young filmmaker, that's very inspiring because it makes me feel like I'll be able to do a lot of different things. Jane Campion is a director I've always admired a lot and who's always created really interesting and complex roles for women. Strong characters, which I'm naturally drawn to. Her characters are strong and complex.
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.