Ladies, now let’s get in formation

This year is important for 15 Minutes Max. Not only is it our fifth birthday [cue confetti explosion], but for the first time we have significant female representation. Of the 11 finalists, seven are women. That’s more than 60 percent. In an industry that inexplicably seems to favor working with and for men, this festival serves as a lesson. Not only are women persevering through sexism, they’re producing work that demands to be acknowledged.

Finalists Ejaniia Clayton, Courtney Guttenberg, Maya Suchak and Claire Johnson weighed in on how it feels to be a female filmmaker.


Image from Clayton’s film “Reach”/provided by Youth FX

“To be a woman, a young woman, a young woman of color in a male-centric industry feels like an uphill battle,” said Clayton. “I often feel like I have to continuously prove myself, prove my talent, and constantly work to increase my skill level. It takes an overwhelming amount drive to do this kind of work, especially when you have odds against you.”

Her documentary, “Reach,” is a top contender and was produced while she worked with Albany’s Youth FX, an intensive program designed to introduce young people to film making.

Also from Youth FX is our champion from 2015, Maya Suchak. She submitted “Finding


Image for Suchak’s film “Finding Strength”/provided by Youth FX

Strength,” a story about three Albany High School students. Each one has endured negativity and is on the path to overcoming and understanding their tribulations.

“I alone cannot change the future of film,” Suchak said, “but plan to continue creating films to hopefully inspire other young women to create their visions as well; creating more spaces and opportunities for female filmmakers.”

From the College of Saint Rose is finalist Courtney Guttenberg. This is her second time as a 15MM finalist. Guttenberg dove into her creative dark side and submitted a psychological thriller, “The Gift.”


Still from Guttenberg’s “The Gift”

“It feels really good to be one of the seven female finalists in the competition,” Guttenberg said. “I am incredibly pleased to be among other talented, passionate and creative women who have the ability to make real and deep change in the film industry.”

Hailing from Skidmore College is “Reina” creator Claire Johnson, who presents the issue of sexual assault with her documentary. This is the first film Johnson has ever made and it left a strong impression with the festival’s judges.


Poster for Johnson’s film “Reina”

“I think it’s extremely important for woman film makers to support each other,” said Johnson. “Film is lacking a point of view that makes up half the population. We need more women in film and it’s up to us to teach and learn if we want to hear our issues voiced. It feels great to even be a part of this competition and it feels even better to be part of a group of extremely talented women.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to view poignant work from the world’s future storytellers. All 11 films will be showcased Friday, Oct. 7, beginning at 5 p.m. at Albany’s Madison Theater.

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