Women in Film & Video: June President’s Message

MSV Garden

Rebecca stands in the gardens outside the Museum of Shenandoah Valley, where over 70 of Alphonse Mucha’s works are currently on exhibit.

A young artist moved to Paris in the late 1800’s to continue his artistic studies, and like many of us, had to work on the side to help support himself while pursuing his dream.  He made money doing commercial illustrations for magazines and advertisements, and around Christmas, happened upon a print shop that was furiously looking for a new advertising poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s latest play.  The most famous actress in Paris was starring in GISMONDA at the Theatre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin at the beginning of January.  The young man was Alphonse Mucha, and the poster he produced in two weeks for Bernhardt created an overnight sensation, and established him as the “pre-eminent exponent of French Art Noveau”, according to the Mucha Foundation’s website.  It also began a six-year contract between the two artists, one renowned for his visual skill and the other, for her theatrical flair.

From 1895 to 1910, Mucha was one of the most popular and influential artists in all of Europe.  Although he frequently worked in Vienna and Paris, he also taught at Chicago’s Art Institute from 1904 – 1910.  It was in Chicago that Americans were first introduced to his women with flowing hair breaking the constraints of the picture frame, and the geometric symbolism that typically created a “halo” around the subject.  His work, or “le style Mucha”, as it was known in Paris, influenced everything from theatrical performances, paintings, book illustrations, and calendars, to architectural and furniture design.  The desire to move away from 19th century ornamental style, and incorporate organic lines and geometric forms into art is an important predecessor to modernism, and later found new life in a 60’s revival of Mucha’s popularity.

This artistic desire to break away from the old, and create something new, is a pattern that has repeated itself in art throughout the ages.  One of the signs of the decline of a civilization is the recycling of previous art forms, and the lack of new, original work.  In its 35th Anniversary year, Women in Film & Video began two strategic initiatives dedicated to fostering original works by WIFV members: the Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers and Spotlight on Screenwriters, founded and created by Monica Lee Bellais. This month, the inaugural WIFV Seed Fund Grant Selection Committee has begun the process of reviewing applications for the Seed Fund, and winners will be announced this summer.  Along with the $2500 grant to help with development and research of an original documentary film, each winner will also be eligible to apply for the Fiscal Sponsorship program.

In the narrative realm, WIFV is now accepting submissions for the third edition of the acclaimed Spotlight on Screenwriters spec catalogue.  Original screenplays by WIFV members are visualized with the help of graphic designers, not unlike Mucha’s theatrical posters for Bernhardt. Spotlight on Screenwriters complements both the Screenwriters Roundtable and the annual ScriptDC conference, organized by Jane Barbara.  “ScriptDC, Spotlight, and the Screenwriters Roundtable exist to help enable our growing community of storytellers to discover the best way to tell their stories.  Whether you are a writer, director, producer, editor, actor, we provide educational and networking opportunities to help you realize your goal,” says Barbara.  Participation in the Screenwriters Roundtable and ScriptDC doesn’t impact your submission status to Spotlight on Screenwriters. It is the best way to network with other writers, and learn about the professional writing industry.


Spotlight on Screenwriters is possible in part with the generous support of the Washington, DC, Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment (OCTFME) and Interface Media Group.

  • June 15, 2016 – First Submission Deadline
  • July 15, 2016 – Second Submission Deadline


Changing media one story at a time,


Visit WIFV.org to learn more about Spotlight on Screenwriters, ScriptDC, and the Screenwriters Roundtable.


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