Zach Hohenstein, E23 Staffer

The substantial and ever-growing monster that is the film industry has historically been male-dominated. A lack of opportunities for female crew members, writers and directors has created a difficult job market for aspiring women in this profession. That is why entirely female-created films such as “When We Grow Up” are so unique and important. Directed by Filipino-American Zorinah Juan and written and produced by New York based Grace Hannoy, the cast and crew are completely comprised of a diverse array of women. This made the independent film a very appropriate selection for the 2018 Citizen Jane Film Festival.

The story is a coming-of-age film, except with adults instead of kids. Three siblings are called home when their family dog passes away and their mother wants to hold a memorial service for him. As they reconnect and go over their various problems and decisions, attitudes and opinions clash in a way that is relatable for most families. The characters are fleshed out well by Hannoy’s detailed script and the entire cast’s chemistry (which Hannoy was also a part of). While the various melodramatic plot points are far from original, the different secrets that each character hides and reveals keep the audience engaged enough throughout the 96 runtime. The witty interactions between siblings and parents provide a decent amount of comedy that make up for some of the film’s minor flaws.

Zorinah Juan (center) and Grace Hannoy (right), the direct and writer respectively of the film “When We Grow Up” at the Citizen Jane Film Festival, November 2018. Photographed by Zack Hohenstein, E23 Staffer.

At the film’s screening, both Juan and Hannoy were present. They took questions after the credits rolled. The audience, while small, was engaging with filmmakers. They discussed topics such ranging from the importance of diversifying the personnel of the film industry, to the improvisational nature of the movie’s dialogue. Juan spoke of the all-women crew, saying, “There is a sense of equality and appreciation on the film set that isn’t usually there.” Hannoy brought up her goals to continue working with underrepresented groups such as women, people of color and members of the LGBT community as well. The challenges of working on a minuscule budget of $40,000 was another talking point.

The mood at Talking Horse Productions on St. James Street in downtown Columbia was that of appreciation for the filmmaking process. It wasn’t so different from how the characters of “When We Grow Up” realize that life itself is a process. There are always going to be struggles in the journey to make things right, but they can be overcome. It just takes some good old-fashioned perseverance, motivation and a touch of women’s intuition.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,