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Meet the five top Kalakari Women filmmakers

Over the last few years, conversations about equal pay and opportunity have stirred long overdue debate in the Film industry. The kalakari film festival is taking steps towards getting their female talent recognised, particularly if they’re behind the camera rather than in front of it. For as long as there have been movies, there have been women making them

Betty Jiang

Betty Jiang (Jiang, Wen wen) is a Chinese-Canadian artist born in Shanghai, China and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Jiang holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking, from Simon Fraser University, and attended Methodica Acting School Ltd. Her past major works include His White Eyes (2009), and Her Blue Shanghainese Eyes (2013). Her films have gone to festivals such as Slamdance, World Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, and she is the recipient of 3 Rising Star Awards from Canada International Film festival – (for Best Canadian Film and Best Family Film). Jiang also works in the theatre, having acted in 8 theatre productions, ranging from authors such as Dario Fo and Franca Rame, Gao Xin Jian, Sartre, and Don Nigro. To this date, Jiang works primarily as a film writer, director, and editor. She considers herself an autuer filmmaker with heavy respect and admiration for the theatre rehearsal process.

Salma Azzam

From a young age, Salma was glued to the TV. Always watching and studying movies with close attention. Her young passion for following the footsteps of her idols has led her to an early start to a fruitful career in filmmaking. Studying at the New York Film Academy, Abu Dhabi, Salma’s short film, Life Notes - which was written, directed, and edited by her - soared to unprecedented success. At the early age of only 18, her film earned a place at the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival. Only a year later, her short film How We Lost What We Found, earned Salma yet another spot at the Cannes Film Festival. A feat very few have been able to proudly achieve so young. Her young spirit and tenacious drive saw her continue to develop her skills as she completed her studies in Fine Arts at SAE, Dubai, as well as completing a course in International Film and Wellness in Education at Academy Plus, Cardiff. Yearning for even more, Salma has continued to direct and develop works of art for film festivals globally. Striving to further herself and learn from the industry’s best, she is currently completing yet another study in English literature at Damascus University, Damascus. Recently, Salma has worked as a creative producer on documentaries which saw her at the inauguration of ONDXB. It featured her as a rising talent, celebrating the film industry in the region. Currently, she is in the pre-production process of two feature films while creating several

Larissa James

Larissa James is a two time Daytime Emmy nominated film and TV producer who edits, writes and directs. Based in Los Angeles and working in the industry for the last decade. LGBTQ.

She is a storyteller drawn to revolutionary thinking, world building, and a traditionally undocumented history. She creates content that ranges from unscripted and scripted television to feature and documentary films. She is known for her work as an Executive Producer and Editor on EastSiders (NETFLIX) and as a Producer, Writer and Editor on Unconventional (creator, Kit Williamson).


comes from the sprawling metropolis of Wayne Michigan, just outside of Detroit Rock city.

After a semester away from graduating with a business degree from Western Michigan University, she ditched that goal and headed west. She attended San Francisco State University where she studied screenwriting and film theory, while faithfully giving her all to the karaoke circuit in the Bay Area.

Her heroes in life are her family, who are all public servants in some way, shape, or form. Her love for horror movies comes directly from the influence of her sisters, and her claim to fame is a cameo in a documentary that followed two obsessed fans of the 80s pop teen sensation Tiffany. Important to note, she was a cameo, not one of the stars.... proving there is no such thing as a small role, and dreams really do come true.

Maggie is also a producer and writer of What’s in the Woods? (2020)

Mara Palena (b. 1988) works and lives in Milan. Her aesthetic is strongly influenced by her training in the fashion industry, where she worked for the most influential fashion stylists. She works mainly with installations, videos, images often combined in the same body of work. Her films celebrate the collaboration between writers, poets and actors exploring identity in our contemporary society. Combining all her expertise in visual arts, fashion and dance her films are planned with specific conceptual aims. Her work has been exhibited in several collective exhibitions, her first solo show was hosted by Twenty14 in 2016. Her work has been selected and exhibited during LA Photomonth 2017 and Lucie Foundation Los Angeles. She had her solo exhibition Oikeiôsis, A Study Of Introspection, curated by Twenty14 and patroned by Casa D’aste Pananti at Pananti Atelier in 2020 in Milan. Co-founder of FIORIARTIFICIALI and EXT. ANGST. AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS “A Study On Behaviour, In Isolation” is a semifinalist at Alternative Film Festival and Venice Shorts Film Festival, USA. “A Study On Behaviour, Sequences Of Performangst” is now an award winner at December 2019 Independent Shorts Awards, in Los Angeles and Cinema of the world in Mumbai as best experimental work, best director and best actress. It is finalist of the New York Cinematography AWARDS, Indie Short Fest and Feel The Reel International Film Festival. It is semi-finalist at Los Angeles Cinematography Awards in Los Angeles, Best Writer category at the Spring 2020 Edition of the Alternative Film Festival and part of the official selection of Košice International Monthly Film Festival and Official Selection of the 2020 London International Motion Picture Awards (L.I.M.P.A). “A Study On Behaviour, Sequences Of An Ordinary Day” is finalist in the Luis Bunuel category at the BLOW-UP International Arthouse Film Fest in Chicago and part of the official selection of Indie Visions Film Festival. “My answer is a lie, the truest lie of all” is part of the official selection of Aesthetica short film festival in York, UK. “Everything that happened, happened before” and “Dialogo, serie di racconti privati” has been screened during Fashion Film Festival Milano 2018 and 2019. “Oikeiôsis” has been selected by Alessia Glaviano for Guest-Room on Der Greif in 2019 “Oikeiôsis” has been selected by Tim Clark for Guest-Room on Der Greif in 2018. “The floating Piers” has been selected and screened during MOPLA, LA Photomonth and Lucie Foundation Los Angeles in 2017.

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