“It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of this competition and community of talented storytellers. This competition is also important because it creates a space to explore the complexities within LGBTQ communities,” says director of Lil Miss Hot Mess, a competitor in The LGBTQ Short Film Competition.
Lil Miss Hot Mess, stars Harris David Harris— a drag queen artist from San Francisco who is “silly,” “sassy,” shaking up social norms and subverting gender roles. In the short directed by Marissa Kitazawa (MK), and produced by Jana Bolotin (JB), Lil Miss Hot Mess reveals the history of drag, its backstage antics and political importance. This collaborative film produced for The International Documentary Challenge, is a fun look at the entertainment value and social importance behind drag.
Q: Tell us about your current film project.
MK: My newest project is in the early stages of planning and fundraising. I’m creating a documentary that captures the experiences of people with disabilities who were affected by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. I just returned from Japan where I was able to begin my initial interviews and I am currently feeling very compelled to share their stories.
Q: What gets you fired up about making films?
JB: Collaboration and execution. Seeing stories unfold into reality.
MK: I’ve always been drawn to documentaries and am inspired by people and their stories. Something very powerful happens when I can combine personal experiences with a larger social justice narrative.
Q: List 3 things you like to do in your free time.
JB: I love traveling by train. I try to take Amtrak and Caltrain as often as I can (I am writing this email while on a train to Chicago). There is a meditative practice to this mode of transport that I really enjoy.
I love seeing Lil Miss Hot Mess perform live!
Lastly, I spend a lot time trying to catch up on my Netflix watch queue.
MK:As a media maker, I’m always glued to my camera, Wacom tablet, iPad, iPhone and/or computer. So there is something very therapeutic about tending to my succulent garden as a meditative space for inspiration with my four tortoises.
I have a slightly obsessive and dependent relationship with coffee, tea and ice cream, so at anytime of the day you can find me indulging in one of these three treats. Lastly, like Jana, I’m forever trying to catch up on my ever growing Netflix queue. No matter how much I binge watch, the list just keeps getting longer!
JB: I love seeing all the wonderful films that are uploaded. I am very impressed with both the cinematic value and storytelling elements of our competitors and I am proud that we get to be part of this competition and event.
MK: All the films in this competition are wonderfully created. It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of this competition and community of talented storytellers. I think this competition is also important because it creates a space to explore the complexities within LGBTQ communities.
Q: Who inspires you in the film industry?
JB: I am invigorated by film and media makers that utilize autobiographic elements in their work. I love the work of Agnes Varda. She is and will always be a continual influence in my practice. I have recently been introduced to the works of Barbara Hammer and Animator Jodie Mack and I think they are wonderful!
MK: I am inspired by individuals who are able to connect their films beyond the silver screen and with the communities they represent. My mentor, Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, is someone who is able to find balance between her passion for filmmaking with social justice storytelling. Her personal relationships with her subjects allows her to tell stories with deep insights that deliver powerful messages. She is also someone who constantly challenges me to push myself as a storyteller, filmmaker, artist, and activist.
Q: Are there any entertainment trends that you’re addicted to right now?
JB: I am interested in interactive documentaries and looking at questions of immersion and user participation. Particularly unpacking what Transmedia storytelling looks like and how it can be useful for activism and user generated action.
MK: Similarly to Jana, I’m really fascinated to see where the world of Transmedia will take us. The ability to engage with your audiences on the web opens so many more possibilities. I think it could really be utilized to create new dialogues and will change the way we act as media makers and consumers.