Women have never been a more visible part of Star Wars fandom than right now. Sure, we still have hordes of trolls claiming female Star Wars characters are political statements, not basic inclusion; and there are still some young girls who are afraid to wear Star Wars merch for fear of being teased. But we’ve come a long way in terms of being seen and respected as a major presence in the world of fandom.
But just because our visibility has increased, that doesn’t mean women’s love of Star Wars is anything new. Women have always been a part of Star Wars. And the docu-series Looking for Leia wants to tell their stories.
Filmmaker Annalise Ophelian set out last year to make a documentary about the women at the heart of this fandom but gathered so much material, it will instead be released as a six-part series. Ophelian will be exploring subjects that represent both the joys of fandom, as well as the sexism women are forced to navigate therein. The episodes will cover “everything from the history of women in science fiction and fantasy genre, early Star Wars fan-zines, collectors, cosplayers, women inspired into STEM fields because of their love of a galaxy far, far away, and women who find their fandom as a site of gender resilience and resistance.”
In an interview with the Verge last year, Ophelian addressed the sort of mentality in fandom that makes that resilience and resistance necessary. “The perception of male dominance in fandom is, I think, accurate, and a reflection of how sexism functions in the world,” she says. “I think women’s fandom is in many ways a reflection of how women have always navigated that sexism. I’m challenging the cultural assumptions made of Star Wars fans in the same way I want cultural assumptions about women to be challenged in general.”
In this series, women are not just the subjects in front of the camera, they made up nearly the entirety of the production team as well. That includes queer and trans women and women of color. This is, as Ophelian puts it, “women telling women’s Star Wars fandom stories.”
As she starts on post-production on the series, Ophelian has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark, a fundraising platform for independent filmmakers. She’s looking to raise funds to hire women for the post-production team, to film b-roll and pick-up interviews, and everything else that takes a lot of money to get a project like this from the page to your screen.
Over on the campaign page, you can check out videos and full episode descriptions. There are also some pretty cool donation incentives.
(via SyFyWire, image: screencap)
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