Student gains internship with Chicago Feminist Film Festival

By Kaci Watt

The annual Chicago Feminist Film Festival, running its third year March 7–9 at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., features three days of feature-length and short films by female, LGBTQ and minority directors that promote feminism. 

Sophomore music major Emma Young earned an internship with the festival in December 2017 as press liaison and opening night event coordinator. The Chronicle spoke to Young about her internship, the use and abuse of dead women in film and why the festival is empowering.

THE CHRONICLE: What do you enjoy about the festival? 

EMMA YOUNG: It’s really special that we get to see all these female empowering films in one place over three nights. The fact that it’s free and you can just walk in to see either a series of shorts or an amazing feature length film—that’s astounding. 

Is there a specific film you’re excited to see the crowd react to? 

Last Friday, we watched this documentary on women in Hollywood who play dead bodies. It talks about how they’ll come to set with a script saying [they’re] going to lay in the dirt with [their] eyes closed. Then they get to set and [the male directors] keep pushing them farther and farther. 

[For example,] “Now, we want you to take off your clothes and now we want you to be submerged in water,” and they will just give you more money if you do it. Young girls who are starting out at 19 and 20 years old are just like, “Oh OK, I guess if it’s going to get my foot in the door,” and it’s sad. The worst thing about it is, a lot of these dead bodies are featured on “CSI” or “Law and Order,” and the series are usually written off of real cases. 

It’s sad that a girl has to portray this dead body and it’s worse that it actually happened. I’m hoping [there’s] shock [when it’s shown at the festival]. That’s what I felt. Walking out of that screening, I was in silence until I could really reflect on what had happened. 

What have you learned through this internship? 

One of statistics that I didn’t know about was only 6 percent of the top 500 grossing films have female cinematographers, which is a single digit number. I was astounded. 

Why is film important to you? 

It’s the best way to reach people these days. A lot of messages I’ll see on YouTube, Facebook, or in a film journal before I even see it on the news. If you want to get a message out, it’s the quickest way. It’s also an interesting way to tell stories, because unlike theater, you can get different angles and effects. 

How will this internship specifically aid you in your career goals?

I am looking at being an actress, a professional pianist and a singer-songwriter. I’ve learned a lot about talking to the media, which when you’re trying to get your name out there is one of the biggest things.