LA Femme Film Festival Awards – 2014

By Bridget Brady

Open on a dingy Hollywood street outside the LA Film School.  Pan in on a long line of producers, directors, editors, writers and actors; dressed in their finest, all waiting their turn on the red carpet.  The beautiful Madeline Zima (soon to win the “Rising Star” award) arrives and scurries to the front of the line.  This is the scene at the 10th Annual LA Femme Film Festival Awards night.  After red-carpet photos, we enter to find a stream of excited hopefuls, shimmying up to the bar for free drinks, munching on catering, and swarming around each other, chatting, laughing and waiting for the ceremony to begin.  With a vodka-gimlet in hand, I worked my way through the room, talking to excited women who were hoping their film would be chosen for an award.

The LA Femme Film Festival, “By Women, For Everyone”, focuses on women in film.  Not just female actors, but empowering women in every possible way in the film industry.  Founded by Leslie La Page who says, “I created this film festival to empower the Artist and to give a safe place to exhibit growth creatively and promote their personal vision in the medium of film.  There is no better place to start than by creating a film festival that breaks down barriers of distribution, prejudice, and conventional thoughts.”  The LA Femme Festival is currently in it’s 10th successful year

Ann_LeSchander.jpgI had a chance to talk to Ann LeShander, (Writer/Director) before she knew she won the award for Best Feature.  Looking stunning in red, she was incredibly excited, and we chatted about how proud she was to have her film, “The Park Bench”, included among so many other fantastic films.

Denise Carlson, Producer and LA Femme board member says, “This is a fantastic film-festival that celebrates film that are by and about women.  We are so proud to be doing this.”

Watch Bridget's video from the Red Carpet here!

After everyone had a chance to mingle we were ushered into a beautiful theatre for the awards ceremony.  Included in the evening were swag bags for everyone, filled with fun goodies like Pez candy, Epsom salt, body oil and the 25th anniversary edition of the “Creative Handbook”.  The Master of Ceremonies, Sandra Valls, kept us laughing all night with her brash comedy.  We saw a short dance performance from “The Show Off Dolls” and heard two original songs from Singer/Songwriter, Maggie McClure.

All of the evening’s award winners talked about empowerment for women and encouraged all of us to hire more women for our films.  Holly Weirsma (Executive Achievement Award) said, “I fell in love [with LA Femme] and it’s now my favorite film festival.  I’ve been inspired to do two more films with two other women directors.”  Two of the standout acceptance speeches of the night were given by Sheryl Lee Ralph (Lupe Ontiveros Image Award) and Marion Ross (Lifetime Achievement Award).  Sheryl started her speech with a powerful song, “I am a woman, I am an artist, I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song.”  She talked about following our dreams, and being willing to accept that “Now is our time, we deserve success.  No matter how long we’ve been in the business, we are in the right place.  Stop waiting for someone to choose you, and choose yourself.”  Acting legend, Marion Ross, most fondly known for her role of Mrs. Cunningham on “Happy Days”, spoke of “the incredible blessing to spend my life doing what I love.”  And “back in the day the only roles for women were mothers,” and how proud she is to see that changing now.

We saw some incredible clips of the films made by the women in the festival, and simply enjoyed celebrating the beautiful artistry of film-making.

Some of the big wins of the night included:

Lupe Ontiveros Image Award
Sherly Lee Ralph Lifetime Achievement Award
Marion Ross Rising Star Award
Madeline Zima Executive Achievement Award
Holly Weirsma Humanitarian Award
Moran Atias Best Feature – Ann LeSchander

To learn more about the LA Femme Film Festival visit their website here.

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