One particularly mild evening last week, I had the pleasure of attending a documentary roundtable discussion hosted by Women in Film and Video (WIFV), an organization dedicated to advancing the professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, television, video, multimedia and related disciplines. The discussion was led by the three remarkable women behind Essakane, a film about ‘the most remote music festival in the world– the Festival au Désert– and the battle to make it happen.’ It was a fantastic opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with other independent filmmakers and cinephiles from the DC metro- area.
The women behind Essakane confirmed that documentary filmmaking is indeed a labor of love. They shared the hard lessons they learned throughout their adventure, from crowd-funding, to visa issues, and the perils of an international shoot. Their team masterfully bobbed and weaved their way from Timbuktu across the desert, unconventionally generating the resources they needed to make their beautiful film a reality. It was particularly useful to hear from a team that has overcome the challenges of filmmaking in a resource-limited setting, a challenge I am anxiously anticipating.
Being a documentary filmmaker can be a rather isolating experience, particularly in the pre-production phase when so much time is spent researching, writing, planning, and fundraising. However the energy in the room the night of the roundtable was electric, the love of this art– palpable. I have already connected with some of the women I met there and they have generously gone out of their way to offer support. I am grateful for organizations like WIFV that offer independent filmmakers such a beautiful, inclusive community.
Take a minute to check out the Essakane film trailer— I promise its a lovely way to end the week.