Persona Project

Conversations with young women in the film business. by Taylor Hess

  • “Film is just as social as it is creative…”: Zsuzsanna Kiràly on Development and Co-Production in Berlin

    I’m the first to arrive at a panel on “Sexism & the Film Industry” at the inaugural Berlin Art Film Festival in Kreuzberg. As Berliners trickle in at a considerably early 2:00 PM on a Saturday, I notice that the modest audience is all women. I’m reminded of my conflicting feelings about Emma Watson’s recent HeForShe speech at the UN, a campaign to formally invite men to join the feminist movement. Naturally, a conversation about gender inequality without participation from all genders is insufficient. It’s just that the unspoken camaraderie in a room full of women feels somehow appropriate, at…  Read more

    On Dec 30, 2014
    By on Dec 30, 2014 Columns
  • “I’m at a Precarious Age. I Don’t Know How Much Longer I’ll Get to Have This Life”: Cécile Tollu-Polonowski on Multitasking in the Berlin Film Industry

    I am at Tempelhofer Park on a cold Saturday morning in Berlin. An airport reconstructed by the Nazi government in the 1930s, Tempelhof today is an epicenter of kite flying, urban farming, summer barbequing, and most impressively, unrestricted dog romping. My mother is a dog-walking regular at several public parks in Ohio and has witnessed a good many leashed vs. unleashed dog controversies over the years. As I take in the expansive landscape of Tempelhof, I’m subliminally considering the transformation from Third Reich austerity. I’m distracted by the notion that these Berlin canines are experiencing a freedom that American pooches…  Read more

    On Dec 16, 2014
    By on Dec 16, 2014 Columns
  • “You Have to Learn Fast if You Want to Stand Out”: Lorna-Lee Sagebiel on Film Sales

    I’m on my terrace watching what will probably be my last New York sunrise before I move to Berlin. Later, I learn that my early morning insomnia coincided with not just any sunrise, but a total lunar eclipse, which is technically called syzygy — when the sun, earth, and moon are aligned to form an almost or exact straight line. I couldn’t have contrived an experience more poetic — my final New York sunrise, my first and probably last syzygy. Like all perfect New York moments, this feels like the most perfect New York moment, which is another way of…  Read more

    On Dec 2, 2014
    By on Dec 2, 2014 Columns
  • “… Sometimes Work Feels Like a Rugby Field”: Abby Davis on Finance and Co-Productions

    I am walking into a play, my most highly anticipated production of the year – Ivo Van Hove’s adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 film Scenes from a Marriage at New York Theater Workshop in the East Village. Obviously Bergman is a cinematic legend; he’s also my personal favorite artist. Van Hove’s stage adaptations tend to have a very different aesthetic than the films upon which they are based, but they are colored with the same emotional hysteria that deeply affected me when first watching Persona at the impressionable age of 20. Years later, Persona still takes my breath away. In…  Read more

    On Nov 18, 2014
    By on Nov 18, 2014 Columns
  • “What I Once Felt Guilty About Doing… Is Now My Job”: Amanda Trokan on Film Programming

    I’m having dinner upstate with my grandparents indulging the Labor Day weekend – food, books, sleep, repeat. Embracing their rigid routines and schedule is a fascinating escape, one that is also mildly horrifying. “Growing old is not for the faint hearted,” my grandfather tells me, and while I can only theoretically understand the sentiment, this sort of elder wisdom is his bread and butter. “Always have fun and fill your life with experiences and adventure, but also remember to plan for the future,” he says. I’m conscious of this temporal pressure even while feeling comparatively young in my grandparents’ house,…  Read more

    On Nov 11, 2014
    By on Nov 11, 2014 Columns
  • “Be Patient and Try Not to Hold Grudges”: Marjon Javadi on Acquisitions and Production

    I am at Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice during my very first trip to Los Angeles, feeling appropriately like a Lost Angel. My close friend Marjon has fled New York, not for beachy weekends but for a career opportunity. With our trendy Intelligentsia coffees in tow, we pore over astrological renderings on the back sofas of Mystic Journey, and conversation takes a familiar turn. The Sheryl Sandbergs and Sophia Amorusos of the world may be providing smart macro-level discourse on workplace age, sex, and gender politics, but there’s an equally vital conversation, I am discovering, happening between young women confronting…  Read more

    On Oct 28, 2014
    By on Oct 28, 2014 Columns
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