Wish You Were Here | #WutiGoesIdyllwild

by Thuc Nguyen

Photographed by Thuc Nguyen

Photographed by Thuc Nguyen

In the last few days of summer, Angelenos and people from all over, of all genders, donned their best winter wear and joined together nearly six thousand feet above sea level in the quaint mountain town of Idyllwild, California. In the days where most film festivals get called out for their lack of inclusion, Women Under The Influence, aka WUTI, does it right. The festival founded by British director Tabitha Denholm and friends featured the work of womxn directors, female filmmakers and cultural tastemakers from the words of music and books.

The cornerstone of the WUTI Fest is a grant program sponsored by The North Face called “Women Move Mountains”, where four women are given twenty-five thousand dollars each to make a short film. The shorts to be will feature Mexico, Republic of Congo, agrarian society in North Carolina and “a warm dry camping area”. Recipients will be mentored by other woman documentarians. Highlights of the panel included mentor Eloise King talking about how it's different being a Black woman in film.

Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs was in conversation with producer Natalie Farrey of Vice Films. Karen revealed her three main influences to be: Empire of The Sun, Harold and Maude and Pretty in Pink. She hinted at the fact she's about to embark upon another music for film project.

The Saturday night feature, out under the stars and pines, was Tia Carrere and Penelope Spheeris tearing down the house talking about their movie Wayne's World. When asked how she got the job directing it, Penelope said: “I slept with Lorne Michaels”. Hopefully she was joking. She also said she had some Weinstein stories, but would save those for another time. Tia told us about the importance of film writers being specific in their character descriptions, “If Mike Myers hadn't written a part for a girl with a heavy Chinese accent, who spoke Cantonese, who could rock like nobody's business, the part [of Cassandra] would've gone to someone like Cameron Diaz”. Imagine that iconic role not being Tia Carrere- impossible. It turned around the notion of “Asian female nerd to be bullied” from 1980s movies into Asian woman who rocks out and can kick your ass, with the lead character Wayne being aware of his cultural misstep in his line “everyone's kung fu fighting”.

Other bests from WUTI Fest are a collection of stand-outs. The LA Rebellion was there with director Julie Dash who gave us the feature Daughters of The Dust. “The “LA Rebellion” has become the most commonly used term for a movement that began at UCLA in the midst of heavy racial turmoil. In the wake of the Watts Riots, the first group of African and African American filmmakers graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. They were charged with reimagining cinema to combat the predominant, often negative black narratives seen in mainstream media.” On hand also were the women Belletrist, a book club headed by actress Emma Roberts, and an appearance by Courtney Love to talk about “LA Stories”. There were so many other amazing screenings and talks, you’d have to clone yourself to make it to all of them.