Around 60 activists, artists and New Haven residents attended the screening of 17 short films that addressed gender, race and immigration on Tuesday night, one year after President Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
Nasty Woman New Haven, a nonprofit organization that promotes art to resist the Trump administration, hosted a film festival on Nov. 7 in conjunction with City Wide Open Studios at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art. The organizations invited both experienced and amateur New England filmmakers to submit their works to raise awareness on issues that affect women, immigrants and people who are “marginalized” under the Trump administration.
“After the election, [Nasty Woman] was a way for us to organize ourselves and to feel slightly better about the world, mostly through organizing and making art,” said Laurie Sweet, one of the event organizers. “This event stems from an art exhibit that happened last March and April at the Institute Library. There was a need for something else beyond a visual arts exhibit, and we had a lot of people asking for us to go in the direction of film so that’s what we did.”
All the donations gathered at the festival will benefit progressive nonprofits such as the Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services, Make the Road Connecticut and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. In the reception before the screening, a representative from each nonprofit organization shared words about the importance of activism.
Gretchen Raffa, director of public policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, concluded her speech by saying that under the Trump administration, “We are in the fight of our lives.” The two other speakers agreed with her, and the three of them discussed the importance of acting locally to make the Elm City a welcoming, nondiscriminatory space.
Megan Manton, another event organizer, highlighted the importance of using art to create community.
“Art is a universal language. It stretches across all cultures and it brings people together,” she said. “It’s a way to feel comfortable and to feel safe, and that’s what we hoped for the film festival, that people talked about how they were feeling.”
Seventeen short films were selected for this screening and the documentaries that are selected as finalists will be screened at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival.
“I´ll Be Your Man” — a short film by Haley Depner, an artist from the University of Southern Maine — addressed the struggles faced by same-sex couples. Depner said she believes the film sheds light on people who are marginalized under the current presidential administration.
“This [film festival] caught my eye because I thought it was a good match for my short [film], and it met the criteria of a donation-based festival,” Depner said. “I felt that my entry fees were going to a good cause that I believe in and support.”
At the event, organizers, activists and artists agreed that art plays an important role in political activism, one year into the resistance.
“[We are] just doing it out of passion and love for this, out of a dislike of what is going on in our society and wanting to do something positive, to change something,” Manton said. “Hopefully we can open up a conversation and bring people together.”
The screenings continued into a second day on Nov. 8.
Berenice Valencia | firstname.lastname@example.org