Citizen Jane Film Festival receives double the film entries

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COLUMBIA - The Citizen Jane Film Festival received about 1,000 film submissions this year, which is double the amount it received last Fall.

This year's theme is "Interact," which embodies all people coming together to embrace each other's creativity in filmmaking.

"Moviemaker Magazine" recently named Citizen Jane one of the top 25 coolest film festivals in the world, along with the Berlin International Film Festival and the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. 

Citizen Jane kicks off Thursday night and will continue until Sunday.

The festival celebrates women who directed and/or co-directed films. It offers 13 features and 7 programs of short films. This year, organizers added a "dance" shorts program due to an increase in popularity for that genre. The festival got a lot of international film submissions, as well.

Kerri Yost is the programming director of the festival. She said the main goal of Citizen Jane is to get more films directed by women out into the world. She said she thinks it does better than other film festivals because Columbia is an "art-embracing community."

"Right now, if you were to go to the mainstream theater, there is a really good chance that any weekend you go, there will never be a film made by women," Yost said. "There's really a lot of studies that show, if women are not the director or behind the camera, then the stories are skewed to show women in a different way."

Yost said the submissions to Citizen Jane do not necessarily have to be about women's issues. She said that belief is a common misunderstanding. 

"You will see films that are about women's issues, but what we want to emphasize is that women can make films about anything," Yost said.

She said women directors in Hollywood are often constrained to making films only about women's issues, because there is a presumption that those types of films are all that they can make. She also said Hollywood is getting in trouble because there is a lack of opportunities tp anyone who is not a "White male."

"Trust me, women want to make actions films. They want to make the next super hero film. They want to make the next Star Wars. They don't just want to make films about women," Yost said. 

Jordan Collins is a film major at Stephens College and works at the box office for the film festival. She said she personally looks forward to Citizen Jane because it gives her hope and direction in how to achieve a career in making films. She worked at a reality television production company out in Los Angelos and experienced the challenges women face in the industry. 

"As a woman, especially if you're like a production assistant, they are going to the man to do something first," Collins said. "I learned you just have to put yourself out there and say 'hey, I can do it just as good as the man.'"

The festival will kick-off with the "Citizen Jane Summit" at 5:30 p.m. on the Stephens College campus, featuring a discussion about women in the film industry.