By Her Aim Is True director, Karen Whitehead
Last night I sat in a room filled with an inspiring group of women dedicated to crafting and sharing vital, engaging and entertaining stories with audiences everywhere. The occasion, (Women In Film & Video of Washington DC, Women of Vision Awards) was to celebrate and honor four distinguished women for their achievements in media. My congratulations go to Agnieszka Holland, wirter/director. Shirin Ghareeb, director Arabian Sights Film Festival and Deputy Director, Filmfest DC. Margaret Parsons, Curator, Film Programs, National Gallery of Art. Christine Weber, Vice President of Production for Specials, Discovery Channel.
These women have produced influential bodies of work that sets the bar higher for all of us. But there was something else going on last night that I want to tell you about because it explains why and how I made my first independent documentary film. In a word it is passion. The room was positively buzzing with it last night and it got me thinking about what compelled me to devote the last three years of my professional life to a seemingly impossible task of completing this project with no funding from industry or arts grants. My passion was to reveal a hidden story about a remarkable woman whose artistry and important legacy as a pioneering rock n roll photographer in the mid 1960s may have remained in the shadows. I managed to fundraise for this film and gather inkind services and reduced rates by telling people about Jini Dellaccio’s passion to pursue her creative vision when so few women were garnering any professional acknowledgement at the time.
And last night it came full circle as I was surrounded by the collective passion of all us who are storytellers and want to give platforms to other voices, share experiences and sometimes, like the subject of Her Aim Is True, show how ordinary lives become extraordinary.
For me, though, the evening also had a melancholy tone. Early on in the proceedings, another filmmaker who inspires me daily, Susan Barocas, announced the winner of Carolyn’s First Decade Fund, in memory of our dear friend and colleague, Carolyn Projansky. Carolyn’s passion for story telling inspired me to embark on this journey in indie filmmaking that has now resulted in my film about Jini Dellaccio. We named Regina Reese the first recipient, a young professional with lots of drive to do inspiring work in media.
And as I drove home last night I could not help but recall this anthem from Flashdance that is so fitting for all the Carolyns, Reginas and Jinis in this world – a salute to women who are not afraid of pursuing their creativity:
“Take your passion, and make it happen. Pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life. Bein’s believin”