To have a great idea is one thing but to put it all together is another. Sometimes it takes years to put that great idea all together and have everything fall into place. Filmmaker Idalina Leandro has certainly been aggressively persistent to put her brainchild “All She Wrote” together. The subject of female graffiti artists empowering themselves through this art is quite the topic but putting the pieces together for the silver screen is an art itself. FERNTV spoke with filmmaker Idalina Leandro to discuss about the writing that is on the wall…
FERNTV: Tell us here at FERNTV how you first started out in the film industry?
Idalina: I was always into acting and writing from a young age. I went to Etobicoke School of the arts and majored in drama in high school. I left Canada in 1998 to live in Europe and I was doing photography at the time. In 2003 I lived in Paris assisting fashion photographers and started to miss writing and I wanted to direct films. I found an English speaking acting class called film acting Paris run by Charles Weinstein and I started writing and acting again. I moved back to London in 2005 and studied at the Impulse Company with Scott Williams and I got an acting agent. I was tired of waiting for an audition so I started writing, directing and producing my own stuff and opened a company called Nightshade Productions. We focused on making thought provoking films that would raise awareness to social and political issues. In 2010, I left London and continued the company under ‘a film company’ keeping with the ethic. All She Wrote is the first film under the new company and also our first documentary.
FERNTV: Where did you get the inspiration to make this documentary All She Wrote?
Idalina: I have been photographing graffiti for years. It has always been a favourite subject. In 2002, when I was living in Portugal, I thought to myself ‘there must be women doing this’ so I became curious to know who they were. It was then that I had the idea to make a documentary about the women of graffiti. I wanted to know who the women were who were doing my favourite kind of art.
FERNTV: From your perspective what is the main difference between male and female graffiti artists?
Idalina: In regards to the art itself, I don’t see a difference. Women are ‘rocking’ walls just as good as or better than some guys out there. However, it can be quite dangerous for a woman to go out at night ‘bombing’ walls, especially if you are alone. Rush from India, for example, tells me that going by herself attracts the wrong kind of crowd and can be very scary. She recently did a graffiti protest about the tragic rape that happened in New Delhi and she had to bring a guy friend along. Any illegal walls will run that risk anywhere but even when women do legal walls, they are usually outnumbered.
FERNTV: What did you learn most about these female graffiti artists?
Idalina: The thing I learned the most about all these women is that all of them are fighters and survivors. They all have something to say and aren’t afraid to say it. They use graffiti as their voice. Together, they represent every woman who has ever struggled to achieve their goals and dreams, regardless if they enjoy the basic freedoms that every woman should have, but, unfortunately, many do not.
FERNTV: What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
Idalina: Actually getting the film off the ground; I had the idea to make this documentary in 2002 when I lived in Lisbon, Portugal for a while. The original idea was to make the film just of Portuguese female graffiti artists as the graffiti scene there is massive. Unfortunately, My job at the time took me to other places around the world so I never got the project off the ground. When I moved to Portugal again in 2011, I finally was able to get the wheels in motion on pre production. It was hard to get started and get the trust of some the people in the scene there. I was finally starting to gain the trust of these graffiti girls who didn’t want to do the film because they didn’t want to be recognized. The word had spread and I was getting graff girls from all over Portugal starting to contact me to be in the film. During filming I got pregnant so we had to stop production. I couldn’t run around jumping fences to film them ‘tagging’ trains and illegal walls anymore. I almost decided to quit the film all together but after my daughter was born in Toronto, I decided to restart the project and make it about women worldwide. I found great talented people to work with me including Heratics who are helping produce the film and everything just seemed to fall into place. My daughter’s birth actually helped me press on for what I believed in and not to give up my dream and what I wanted to achieve, which was to make this film.
FERNTV: A lot of people think that graffiti is a negative art form and of course its associations with it, how does this film make people look at graffiti in a more positive light?
Idalina: This film shows how passionate each woman is about their art and how they all use it to help others and their community. Toofly, for example, co-founded a program called younity which helps young female artists find their way through mentorship and exhibitions, Bomba is a youth counsellor and is involved in the native community in Toronto, Shamsia travels the world speaking about women’s rights and her paintings aim to try to change the image of women in her country, she is also a teacher at the university of Kabul, Rush did a graffiti protest against the horrible rape that happened a few months ago in the city of New Delhi, avdotya protests about the political regime in Russia, and Rafi is also an animal rights activis, Shiro is a nurse in Japan and Shalak also is involved with youth and community programs. There is more about each woman on afilmcompany.wordpress.com. Ultimately, I want my audience to feel inspired by each of these extraordinary women and to understand that female empowerment comes in many different forms. Around the globe, more and more women are turning to graffiti each year. Women who are nurses, mothers, students, mentors, wives, entrepreneurs, teachers and artists—they represent every woman out there struggling to have their voices heard.
FERNTV: Tell us a little bit about A Film Company?
Idalina: A film company was created in Portugal in 2010 by Idalina Leandro, the co-founder and artistic director of Nightshade Productions. After the departure of her partner Alexis Barker in 2009 from Nightshade, Idalina closed the company they had created together to start another venture that was a truer reflection of her individual determination and passion for film, art and music.
A film company aims to produce thought-provoking, quality films, support performing and visual artists and provide a platform for their work such as screenings, exhibits and street performances. In addition, a film company’s mandate involves raising awareness around social and political issues and creating programs that connect with the community. ‘An art project’ is a graffiti art youth program that will transform abandoned buildings into outdoor galleries throughout the province of Ontario. Commencing in late 2013, this program will provide young people with a venue to release their inner artist and help them learn skills that will empower them in the future.
FERNTV: When can we expect this documentary to be released and what festivals to be plan to submit this film to?
Idalina: We are currently looking for funding to finish the film and we have an indiegogo campaign that has just launched. Anyone who would like to contribute can go to http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/226365/x/1221810 . Support would be much appreciated and there are special perks for our contributors such as stickers, t shirts, spray cans, sweatshirts and even a graffiti canvas made by one of the artists of the film.
ASW will be released early 2014 and ready for the film festival season of that year. We will be submitting to all the major film festivals like TIFF, Cannes, Venice, Tribeca and Sundance and other documentary festivals like Hotdocs.
Originally posted by Fernando Fernandez here