Tag Archives: filmmaker
By Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD
One thing that the Red Tent has taught me is the importance of giving and receiving. In many of the Red Tents that I have hosted over the years, one thing I always offered the women in my Red Tent was foot rubs. I love it when I get a foot rub, so I make it a point to offer other women in my Red Tent one too. I have found that many wonderful and intimate conversations has begun over a foot rub. In many Red Tents Temples and Red Tents that ALisa Starkweather, the founder of the Red Tent Temple Movement inspired to begin, she often encouraged the women to have a giving and receiving time during their Red Tent. For example, each woman goes around the room and mentions one thing that they can offer and one thing that they would like to receive. And then those who have similar requests pair up.
Above is a example from a Red Tent I created at the Grail Lady Faire in Bancroft, Ontario Canada for my first trip into Canada with a screening of “Things We Don’t Talk About.” After the screening was finished, a small gathering of women stayed after to be in the Red Tent. The request for giving and receiving were all massage. So we did a conga-line massage and it was fantastic!
I would love for an opportunity to give you a foot rub or a massage, but since I am here in my home in Chicago and you are somewhere else I would like to offer you something else as part of my “25 Days of Giving” that I am celebrating with the Red Tent movie. I am giving away tons of FREE Red Tent stuff when you purchase the DVD. To find out more click here: http://www.redtentmovie.com/store.html
By Jayliegh Lewis
As the days grew shorter and colder this November, Red Tent movie screenings created havens of warmth and community. Isadora, the filmmaker, attended screenings of Things We Don’t Talk About in venues from New York City to the Deep South, while the film premiered in six new locations (Michigan, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Mexico).
The first ten days of the month saw Isadora traveling through New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for a series of cozy screenings in small towns and small spaces. Although the Red Tent movie had already premiered in New York City, this November 1st was Isadora’s first time attending a screening there. The local Red Tent Temple hosted; the space filled with community members, and a post-screening discussion focused on the topic of self-esteem.
A yoga studio in Nyack, New York was the next stop, on November 2nd, for a screening and Red Tent gathering which Isadora described as “radiant, ethereal, and moving.” Nyack is a small-town northern suburb of New York City, located in the Hudson River Valley; fall foliage was at its peak there at the beginning of November. Nyack Yoga, already a grand space, with high ceilings and beautiful lighting, was transformed into a Red Tent for the occasion, providing a gathering space for at least 60 people. Attendees were a mix of women from the local Red Tent community and women from northeast Pennsylvania’s yearly women’s spiritual festival, Where Womyn Gather. (A Red Tent movie screening was part of the festival last spring, quite appropriate since the film features the northeast PA Red Tent community!) Some festival goers who had seen the movie were so inspired by it that they wanted to bring it back to their hometown.
One woman brought her brother to see the film, which caused a bit of controversy in what is often a woman-only space. Isadora made an announcement addressing this: she has always maintained that men are welcome at screenings. Men come from the wombs of their mothers just as women do, and in order to create lasting change in our world we need more men to come out in support of women’s empowerment. When this particular man left the space prior to the woman-only Red Tent portion of the event, everyone in the room clapped for him and thanked him for coming. He, too, said he was glad he came.
Isadora attended two more screenings in the area the next week: one in Hawthorne, New Jersey (hosted by a woman, Zena, who Isadora’s mother had synchronistically met a week and a half prior while the two were exhibiting next to each other at an art show), and one in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (hosted by Khrys Exposito, whose story is featured in the film). Both were small and intimate; the Hawthorne screening attracted friends of Zena’s who were of Russian ancestry (accessing this community for the first time), while the red decorations at the Bethlehem screening inspired women to view the event as their own woman-centric celebration of the season, paralleling the Christmas decorations the town was putting up outside.
November 14th marked the beginning of the filmmaker’s tour through the Deep South. She had been initially invited to the area by a professor of social work at Arkansas State University, Dr. Kat (an attendee of the Red Tent at Where Womyn Gather), but confessed to feeling nervous before embarking for some very conservative places in states she had never visited before.
Isadora’s first taste of the beauty and joy she would experience throughout her time in the South came in Memphis, Tennessee (home of Graceland), when she arrived at sunset to the First Congregational Church. The screening that evening was well-attended by a group of women representing many kinds of diversity. Afterwards, a Red Tent talking circle discussed early feminism and changes that have taken place since. The evening included celebrations in song: one woman, a disability rights advocate who said she doesn’t normally speak in front of crowds, sang a beautiful gospel song for the group, followed by members of the Jewish community singing songs in Hebrew, and a woman singing “Happy Birthday” in Dutch.
Arkansas State University, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, hosted two screenings the next day. An afternoon screening was attended by deans and professors at the school, while an evening screening at a different location, which also included a Red Tent, drew a larger audience. The evening was leisurely and relaxing, including lots of time for talking and foot rubs! During the last hour, a playlist of empowering women’s top 40 music Isadora had created began to play; the women got into the spirit and began dancing with veils and scarves. The filmmaker reports that everyone had a lot of fun; many women who had never heard of Red Tents before said they wanted more women’s community like this.
Another impromptu dance party broke out the following day at a screening in Tupelo, Mississippi (birthplace of Elvis), as women assisted with takedown after the event. This screening was hosted by a young woman named Zola, who offers Red Tents in the area. Her community remains small but strong thanks to her passion for bringing concepts of women’s empowerment and community to a population for which these ideas are often new.
Isadora wrapped up her tour of the South by speaking at a small Unitarian Universalist church in Tupelo on November 17th. In response to a man who shared that he wished his daughters could have the type of community featured in the film, and that he was glad screenings were going ahead even in this very religiously and ideologically conservative region, she spoke about the Red Tent movement being compatible with religion and spirituality even though the movement itself is not spiritual or religious. Anita Diamant’s novel, The Red Tent, which inspired the movement, was initially promoted within churches and synagogues because of its Biblical roots. The Red Tent movement is a grassroots movement which continues to grow because it speaks to women (and men) of many different lifestyles and beliefs.
Overall, November 2013’s Red Tent movie screenings were full of joy: each gathering moved women to access the radiance of their spirits, in their own unique and brilliant ways.
by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD
In March 2012, I had a dream that I wanted every screening of “Things We Don’t Talk About” to be in a giant Red Tent that would travel around with me in a 2 suitcases and be big enough for up to 300 people. But how was this going to work logistically?
I have been a participant in the Red Tent movement since it began and I have helped set up many Red Tents and Red Tent Temples. But the set up always took a LONG time, with hours and hours of labor by numerous women. So how was I going to make it easy to create a huge Red Tent for a screening if it took so much time to create a small one for only 20 women? As I thought about it, one problem that always came up with building the Red Tent was the different size fabrics. The fabrics were often donated curtains, sheets, or yardage. Most yardage is 44 inches or 56 inches wide. While some of the pieces were very long, they were also very narrow and could not cover an entire wall.
How to create it?
I created large panels of fabric that were all the same size and could cover a wall very quickly and without much thought to the design (when it was being hung). So from March 2012 to May 2012, I had an opportunity to have a studio space at the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, a fabric museum, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while I was finishing my PhD and the film. It wasn’t really a studio space, it was more of an empty room with a large bulletin board so I could pin up the different fabrics and create the design for the panels. Almost all of the fabric that I used to create my panels where donated, found at the thrift store, or purchased cheaply on Ebay. The decorative materials that I purchased on Ebay were Indian Sari and Uzbek Suzani. Which were both large and inexpensive ways of adding beautiful fabrics to the plain yardage.
Having spent many summers with my grandmother, who was a talented quilter, I have some sewing and design skills. If this is not a talent you have, my suggestion is to reach out to your friends and family members. There must be someone in your community that can sew and that could help you. Basically the gist of it is to take all of the small pieces of fabric and sew them together in a pattern that you like so that it saves time when you put up your Red Tent. I have found that it takes about 5 minutes to put up one of my panels. For your space, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a beautiful Red Tent that could go up in about 20 minutes or less?
My panels are 15 feet wide by 13 feet tall. I chose 13 feet tall for myself because most ceilings at either 8 feet or 12 feet and I wanted to make sure that my panels would drape on the floor a little bit if I was in a 12 foot space. As for why I created my panels 15 feet wide, that was the size of my bulletin board, but you can chose any width. I would suggest maybe at least 10 feet wide.
Here are examples of some of my Red Tent panels.
To see more example of what the panels look like in different screening venues click here.
How to Hang it?
The second problem that I found with setting up numerous Red Tents was how to hang the fabric. Most groups use thumbtacks or staples to hang the fabric on the wall. But this was a not a good solution for me because I want to do 400 screenings of “Things We Don’t Talk About.” If I put a thumbtack into my fabric that many times it would shred the fabric after just a few events. I also wanted to be gentle on the space and not put a million holes in the wall. So I put grommets along the top edge of all of my panels at intervals of 1 foot. So there are 15 grommets in each panel.
I hang my Red Tent using 1 of 2 methods:
- My favorite is using a 3” binder ring, which I purchased from Office Depot. I put the binder ring through the grommet and then I clip or hang the ring onto things in the space like the grid for a drop ceiling, poles, wall sconces, crown molding, nails already in the space, window frames, etc.
- My other solution is to put a thumbtack into the wall and then hang the grommet on the thumbtack. I don’t often use this method because I don’t like to leave holes in the wall, but when this is my only option I have found that a thumbtack every 3 feet is sufficient.
By Jayleigh Lewis
Screenings of the Red Tent movie, Things We Don’t Talk About, continued throughout September and October 2013, showcasing the variety of ways women have created space for the spirit and vision of the movie to grow and weave itself into their lives. Isadora, the filmmaker, attended many of these screenings, where she witnessed and participated in profound moments as well as moments of celebration and inspiration.
The Red Tent movie is rich in personal stories, both those that were featured on-screen and those that arose from the making of the film. In the course of recent screenings, some of those stories were shared and expanded upon. On September 14th, Lushanya, who appears in the film, hosted a screening at the Community Church of Hope in Phoenix, Arizona. During a post-screening Red Tent talking circle, the women sat in age order (ranging from 18 to 80) while Lushanya shared a follow-up to her story from the film.
Speaking about being raped at age 7 was difficult for her, but she chose to make her story public for the movie. After she was interviewed by Isadora, she realized she still had healing work to do. She decided to return to her hometown in northern California, to the house where the rape had occurred. She carried pink roses and a letter she had written about her experience. When she got to the house, she saw that there were children living there. She left the roses and her letter on the doorstep, with the intention of healing any negative energy that remained. The next day, she came back and saw the roses on display in a window. Lushanya’s healing intention had been accepted; participating in the Red Tent movie had set into motion her courageous act.
A personal story came full circle for Isadora at the September 27th screening in Madison, Wisconsin. In March 2009, she was walking an indoor labyrinth with a friend inside the First United Methodist Church in Madison. A confessional stood next to the labyrinth, and Isadora entered. There, she confessed to the universe that she needed an idea for her next film, was feeling the pressure from her Ph.D. committee, and had no clue what to do. She completely surrendered to the universe in that moment, trusting that the idea would come. The next morning, she got an email from ALisa Starkweather, asking if she’d like to do a PR video for the Red Tent. Then and there, the first seeds of what would become the Red Tent movie were planted. Isadora told this story at September’s screening in that same church, acknowledging the grace that allowed her to return with the finished film to the very place where it all started.
Complementing these momentous journeys and transformations were times of great fun and celebration. On a very hot September 13th in Riverside, California, a far western suburb of Los Angeles, in the desert, a Red Tent movie screening was held in a small belly dance studio called the Body Temple. Kathie, a midwife and doula who hosts Red Tents, invited women from two separate Red Tent communities to come together; the screening was packed. Underneath a giant red parachute which served as the Red Tent’s roof for the evening, women drummed passionately post-screening, and participated in tribal dancing led by the studio’s owner.
On September 15th, the Red Tent movie celebrated its first birthday at a screening in New River, Arizona. A small party was held inside the venue, the Peaceful Spirit Enrichment Center, complete with balloons and women posing for photos!
Lunapads, a producer of woman-friendly reusable menstrual pads and an early endorser of the movie, hosted the second-ever screening to take place in Canada in its Vancouver headquarters on September 22nd. Owners Madeleine and Suzanne teamed up with author, shamanic practitioner, and “menstrual priestess” Nikiah Seeds to put the event together. Nikiah led the Red Tent gathering after the movie, inside a womb-like space with a unique feature: thousands of cloth maxi pads decorating the walls! Also in attendance was Jasmin Starrchild, founder of the Red Moon Medicine Movement, longtime host of Red Tents in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and one of the women who appears in the Red Tent movie.
As it is screened in more and more locations, the film’s visibility and reach grows. On October 16th it was shown at the New York City Independent Film Festival, and on October 24th and 25th it premiered in Israel. Zohar, who runs a Red Tent in Tel Aviv, hosted the dual screenings, which sold out with 120 women present each night. For the occasion, the film was shown with Hebrew subtitles; it was the first screening to feature them.
The breadth and depth of the ways women come together continues to be reflected in the diversity of Red Tent movie screenings around the world; may the creative, transformative power of the film continue!