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Berlinale Women Directors: Meet Rebecca Chaiklin

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood February 11, 2014 at 2:00PM

"As a NYC documentary filmmaker, I was immediately captivated by what was happening in my back yard. On Day 3, I wandered into 'Liberty Square,' the park that was ground zero for the Occupy movement. What I witnessed was unlike anything I had ever seen."
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Still from "Another World"
Still from "Another World"

The Occupy Wall Street movement receives a loving eulogy in the documentary Another World, directed by Rebecca Chaiklin and Fisher Stevens. Chaiklin is also the co-director of two other politically themed nonfiction features, Lockdown, USA and Last Party 2000, which deal with the drug war and the 2000 presidential election, respectively. Another World follows five Occupy activists, including an out-of-work journalist, a Palestinian-American corporate lawyer, and a hip-hop musician whose family's house was foreclosed upon. 

Another World will play at this year's Berlinale.

Please give us your description of the film.
 
Another World is an intimate portrait of several young people who helped create the Occupy Wall Street movement, the personal narratives that brought them to the protest, and their wild ride through the rise and fall of the movement.  

What drew you to this story? 
 
In the fall of 2011 an amazing event transpired in downtown Manhattan. A colorful group of young people from incredibly diverse backgrounds came together to build a social movement, to bring an end to economic inequality and corporate corruption. These young people, fueled by hope, walked away from their homes and jobs and were willing to sacrifice everything for the belief that Another World is possible. This was the birth of Occupy Wall Street.
 
As a NYC documentary filmmaker, I was immediately captivated by what was happening in my back yard. On Day 3, I wandered into "Liberty Square," the park that was ground zero for the movement. What I witnessed was unlike anything I had ever seen. The wellspring of imagination and excitement was palpable. With extremely limited resources and little sense of where the story might go, I believed that what was happening in that park was a story that needed to be told. I wanted to get to know these young people and what had transpired in their individual lives that landed them at Occupy Wall Street.
 
What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
 
There was a lot of mistrust of "outside media" amongst the young people involved in the movement. It took time to build relationships with our characters and have them open up to us.
 
What advice do you have for other female directors?
 
Find a subject that really speaks to you, and follow your heart. Film is a completely collaborative medium, so you need to stay open to the people you are working with. It is a tricky balancing act to stay open to the the ideas of people you are working with while still holding true to your own voice.

Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?
 
It was really interesting to observe OWS and how all these young people who had never met before connected through social media and gathered to begin this movement. In many ways, this says so much about the changing media landscape. However, no matter how audiences find films or on what platform they view them, I strongly believe that powerful human stories will always be the foundation of good films.

Name your favorite woman directed film and why.
 
I am not sure I have an all-time favorite film, but I loved the film Entre Nos, directed by and starring my friend Paola Mendoza. It is a beautiful, brave film based on her true life story. The film has incredible performances that feel as though they are almost documentary scenes, and they allow us to connect profoundly with a world that many of us have never experienced. It is a stunning example of how art can touch us on the deepest human level.

This article is related to: Rebecca Chaiklin, Festivals, Another World, Berlin International Film Festival, Documentary, Women Directors, Interviews


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