Saturday, April 9, 2011

Available Positions in Femspec

Femspec is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to challenging gender through science fiction, magical realism, myth, the supernatural, and other speculative works. Currently, we are looking for people to fill a variety of positions, which are listed below. All positions require three years of volunteer work as well as logging hours and tasks and participating in femspeceditorial wiki and SKYPES on a regular basis. All require and assume current subscriptions to the journal, professional demeanor, consistent communication, ability to take direction, responsible follow-through, love of the subject matter, and embracing our vision. This may lead to recommendations or future gainful employment.

If interested, send bio, vita, letter of interest, and two references to If you are interested in more than one position, please indicate in separate paragraphs your suitability for each in your letter of interest. All applicants for positions must be current subscribers. (We have a special circumstances, household companion, retiree, differently abled, underemployed, unemployed, and student rate of $30. This is not currently posted on our website, Interviews will be conducted through telephone or SKYPE.

Accountant: Someone to help us keep and prepare sound books.

Kickstart Campaign Project Manager: Kickstart has approved a campaign to raise money to print an anthology; the campaign project manager will make a video, explain the process and what feminist sf is on their webpage, make post cards, and set up the links.

Web Person: Updates website as each issue is released – which involves posting the cover, table of contents, abstracts, and showcasing any special features – and makes any changes requested by the editorial board, the editor, or direct supervisor.

Set-up Person: Puts each issue (two a year, between 80 and 280 pages) into the correct format to send to the printer. Sends material back to editor and proofreaders. Makes input into final document to send to printer. Responsible for maintaining electronic archive. Sometimes resizes graphics, designs covers, and works with advertisers to get acceptable files for use. Work may expand as we continue to produce anthologies and books.

Advertising Manager: Solicits and receives exchange ads from other publications such as scholarly journals or feminist media. Keeps a file of all the participating advertisers. Develops new ads on a regular basis and sends them to each publication in the format requested.

Arts Editor: Solicits art in the speculative vein and coordinates review of submissions of articles and cover art.

Drama Editor: Solicits drama submissions in the speculative vein, responsible for reviewing submitted materials, and encourages coverage of drama productions or festivals.

Contract Manager: Submits contracts to accepted authors, archives signed copies, amends contract language as necessary, and consults re-issues.

Manuscript Review Editor: Circulates initial manuscripts to at least two anonymous reviewers, gives feedback to author, ensures author incorporates feedback, re-distributes revised manuscript to one of the initial reviewers and to one new reviewer, and then either accepts or rejects the article. Writes rejection letter or submits completed article to wiki in general queue to be picked up for copyediting. Posts bio and abstract provided by the author.

Public Relations: Gets each book reviewed in significant publications and blogs. Collects such reviews and sends them to the web person to post in press coverage area. Plans and carries out promotional events for each new release (e.g. parties at cons or conferences, signings at bookstores, readings at universities, etc.).

Research and Development: Researches potential funders to determine time line and possible ways to breakdown the large grant we have developed to send to different agencies. Contacts the agencies to discuss the projects and to determine possible interest. Looks at previous funds received by other feminist media by agencies. Once a plan has been developed, works with editors to produce and disseminate a series of grants.

Donor Development: Contact current donors individually and inform them of the journal’s progress to solicit continuing support. Find new donors by gathering a list of women’s studies programs and popular culture programs and developing a campaign to approach the programs for support. Initiates the mutual fund so that donations to the fund may be solicited. Works with a lawyer to complete non profit status so that donors may receive a tax-deductible from Femspec.

Publishing Practicum Intern Coordination: Develops a policy to recruit and interact with interns who seek marketable skills. Teaches interns basic skills such as copyediting, press release writing, proofreading, manuscript submission and processing, writing calls for papers, etc. Helps interns assess jobs performed and become familiar with what skills they can list on their resumes. Writes intern reviews to help with placement.

Femspec Books and Production Associate Editor: Femspec is in the process of expanding into a publishing house. The associate editor will spearhead this project by talking to other feminist and independent publishers, developing a review process for manuscripts, researching what other publishing houses have done during their start ups, developing a timeline and process including guidelines for authors, etc.

Special Issue Editor: Develops calls for special issues. Works with the editors of the special issues throughout the process. Distributes the proposed call to ed board; makes moderations, gets final improvement, distributes widely. Develops a policy statement on the process and structure of special issues to post and utilize with all special issue editors. Ensures all submitters of each special issue are subscribes and keeps a subscription current throughout the submission, review and publication process. Trouble shoots the process and keeps all special issues moving at a timely basis. Can be two to four special issues being proposed or handled a year.

Contest manager: Announces and conducts poetry and fiction contests through vehicles such as Poets and Writers. In charge of the "Best of" contest, which occurs every five years.

Blogger: Encourages other bloggers, promotes the blog, makes blog updates (including ideas sent in by editors, updates about Femspec events, developments, or content) and posts announcement about our books and events.

Retreat Manager: Organizes Femspec annual retreat. This includes determining a time and place when key players gather for organizational planning, organizing the retreat’s agenda, keeping records, arranging catering, and organizing transportation.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

CIFF Take Two

Independent Shorts Program 11

This was the Saturday 11 am feature, which I picked because of the mention of a woman going to the moon in one film, and the mention of flying books in another. Also, Emmy Levine, our primary CIFF coverage from last year, mentioned that the shorts was a category more likely to be a repository of women directors. This Saturday morning visit was full of surprises and worth the time as well as the voucher.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, USA, 17 minutes) while not specifically challenging gender, illustrated in a delightful way the process of an author writing and creating a book in a library with an attendant audience of books eagerly helping him, and then flying off to author heaven led by a clutch of balloon-like books on a handful of strings as he regains his youth. Meanwhile, on the steps of the library, a youthful reader checks out the book he leaves behind.

The Spaceship (Emil Mkrttchian, Sweden, 25 minutes) was the one about the woman who wants to go to the moon. Turns out this is not science fiction at all, but the science fiction impacted imagination of a mentally challenged young woman who has a talking red rabbit to keep her company as she imagines her goal of getting there in imaginary spaceships. Abandoned by her mother who checks into a mental hospital when abandoned by her father, who is disturbed by having a child who is different, she cycles around town bearing the insult of “retard” by those who consider her different. She befriends the owner of a pizza parlor who refuses to hire her, although he too, as she eventually points out, harbors a fantasy: of going on a safari. She eventually does get him to give her a job, and cooks for other borderline, homeless, strange, and different people who dance in the streets enjoying her obviously innovative pizzas they are willing to take a chance on. There is a fantasy section when she goes to the moon, however; as she pops out, she sees an electrical being who turns out to be a vehicle for the flashback to her originally diagnosing psychiatrist who had thrown her father into a tizzy about how she would have a hard life, labeled for being so different.

Last Rain (Tony Sanchez and David Sanz, Spain, 20 minutes) doesn’t really challenge gender, but it could be about time travelling and past or future lives; go see it. It won a Oaxaca Film Festival.

Interview (Sebastian Marka, Germany, 20 minutes) seems, for a brief minute, to be a challenge of gender as a woman takes out an ad to send an actor to pose as a serial killer of women that her husband, a journalist, is interviewing; except, the killer answers the ad and actually kills her.

As the Rain Was Falling (Charlotte Joulia, France, 9 minutes) tricks the viewer into believing that a man and a woman caught in the rain start to have an affair. The bell rings interrupting their start of a kiss, and the viewer discovers the two are a separated couple passing off things and a kid at school. Doesn’t fit our category, but it’s still good.

Another good film is Heirlooms (Wendy Chandler and Susan Danta, Australia, 10 minutes), which is a series of short animations about precious objects of a series of children around the world.

Friday, April 1, 2011

35th Cleveland International Film Festival: Take One

Bibliotheque Pascal
Szaboics Hadju, Dir.
Hungary, Germany 2010
111 minutes

Having nearly walked out of this film by a young male Hungarian director (b.1972) three times, in the end, I was glad that I stayed at this first film I have had time to sit and write up thanks to a reprieve at the Hospitality Suite next to the Ritz. The cinematography was beautiful, for one thing. Originally I picked the film off the program of the 35th Cleveland International Film Festival program due to the description that emphasized the interplay of fantasy and reality in the life of a young mother “called into question by child protection services after leaving her young daughter with a fortune-telling aunt” (44). Since I have been working on reclaiming the image of “the fortune-teller” in Western culture, both in film and in life, this drew me in.

We did not even get to meet the fortune teller until about a third of the way through the film. She was portrayed sympathetically and realistically—talking about the mortgage and the competition of the Gypsy who only told the customers good things who had moved into the neighborhood and cut into her business. After showing her reading cards for her niece, she merely looked at a palm or two and made dire predictions rather than using her powers to be transformative, feeding into the image of the palm reader that most have. And although she confesses on a grave that she does not believe in tarot or coffee grounds, she does read cards with which her clients expect her to be predictive. In fact, she makes a prediction that turns out to be false and is expected to raise a large sum of money to pay off a client. Hence the plot.

She takes tickets to have the crowd watch her grandniece dream; apparently, this brought on the action of Child Protective Serives. During the dream, the child sees her grandfather lead a brass marching band to liberate her mother from a house of prostitution in far off Liverpool, where her mother was about to be gassed to death and then raped to lines of Shakespeare’s Othello, after playing lines of George Bernard Shaw’s Joan of Arc. There she had been raped by a john for wearing men’s clothing.

All the other prostitutes, also victims of the sex slavery system from Eastern Europe, play other characters in literature; after the marching band comes through from the power of the daughter’s active dream, they all stand bewildered on the street looking rather vulnerable in their variety of fantasy costumes.

The scene flashes back to the office of the social worker at Child Welfare who makes it clear to the sad but colorful Mona that if she really wants her daughter back, they cannot possibly put this rendition of the mother’s truth into the report—nor that the father jumped out of her from the sand at the beach. Nor that he ran out to the bathhouse the next morning. Nor that he convinced the soldiers after him for beating a gay guy to death to put all their guns down, ran, and then got shot. Nor that it was her own father who asked her to accompany him to Germany for his surgery and then sold her into sexual slavery, only to be shot himself and have the money he had paid for her be taken back.

After watching nearly the whole movie of the fantasy plot, the natural audience reaction is to feel quite disturbed and perturbed that the young mother is forced to create a mundane story of meeting a guy in the street in the city, being given a false name and place that he worked, that she couldn’t find him the next day that she chose to go into prostitution for the money and hated it….until we realize the longer she talks that this is indeed the truth, and the fantasy of the rest of the story had been made up.

The child welfare worker signs the papers with the toned down story after modifying a few items such as the man she met forced her to go into prostitution and that the young mother herself returned having decided to mend her ways. Ominously saying he is not quite sure what he will put in the report for the benefit of the child, after the mother leaves to the satisfaction of the typing secretary, the social worker indeed gives the recommendation to return the child to the biological mother.

In the last scene, we see the mother serving four scoops of pure air to the daughter from an empty bowl of soup, and pouring invisible milk from an empty pitcher, all the while saying how good the meal is. Playfully, the daughter demonstrates actively agreeing. We are brought to wonder if indeed the social worker’s hesitation to give the child back to the mother had not been correct after all. Then the camera pans out to show that the two of them are playing on sets of kitchens and bedrooms in a fancy goods department store. Recognition clicks. Goods are displayed for consumers in an economy where the cash to purchase them is not there.

The film does challenge gender through speculative means, surrealism, and magical realism. However, my urge to walk out was to avoid watch a rape, and I took no pleasure in the glorification of women’s victimization and female objectification. I also did not enjoy a pattern in my mind forming as I was remembering that the audience award at this festival a couple of years ago had also been about prostitution, and that the Jewish Film Festival in Cleveland has similarly had a film a couple of years ago about the Eastern European sex traffic trade, also focusing on a woman who had chosen to leave the country to go into prostitution to send her money to her daughter.

But where are the images of strong women fighting in Israel against the Occupation, or the ways women have been organizing in Eastern Europe, and all the ways women have been against this and other issues? I wondered this to myself, as I saw the man who had purchased Mona from a sexual slave parade introduce her to the habit of shooting up and encouraging her to contact him if she ever wanted to try it again. I had to force myself to remember that there were other films at the festival that I had not seen, or had not seen yet—such as the film about the women’s art movement of the 1960s and 70s (!Women Art Revolution 122) and the film about the woman who translated five Dostoevsky novels into German because she believes literacy can be spiritually uplifting (The Woman with the 5 Elephants 122).

So I stayed and watched the blood spurt from the man as his sexual slave bit his tongue. In the fantasy she almost got away, and it was the power of her daughter’s dream of liberation, even though she must have felt abandoned, that saved her.

35th Cleveland International Film Festival BE PART OF THE STORY; Tower City Cinemas March 24-April 3 2011. Cleveland, OH. Program Book.