Because of the variety of unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for nonprofits in the Borderland, many of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation’s partners have been coming up with new and innovative ways to implement their programs in 2020.
One such partner is Femme Frontera, a nonprofit founded in 2016 by six female filmmakers from the U.S.-Mexico border region which advocates for the amplification of films made by women from border regions across the globe.
“Working with the Paso del Norte Community Foundation has been a really wonderful opportunity for Femme Frontera to grow,” says Angie Reza Tures, co-founder and director of Femme Frontera. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to receive the funding we are currently applying for. They support us in whatever we need, from writing grants, to helping us keep track of our funding, to helping us solicit individual donations.”
The organization began as a way to highlight films made by women from the border region during its annual Femme Frontera Filmmaker Showcase and has since grown to include helping filmmakers find funding and providing mentorship.
Femme Frontera has also grown to provide educational opportunities for children and adult filmmakers through its Filmmaking Workshops. Of course, due to the pandemic, Femme Frontera organizers had to find new ways to safely continue with its mission for its summer workshops.
“The purpose behind our workshops is to have more stories coming out of the El Paso-Las Cruces-Juárez region, specifically by women and children,” Reza Tures said. “Our workshops are specifically geared towards storytelling and this year we introduced two new classes – narrative filmmaking, as well as, an animation filmmaking class. All of them, because of the pandemic, were available online.”
Femme Frontera was able to use a combination of pre-taped online videos and live video conferencing classes to hold each of its workshops this year. In addition, the organization focused on using mobile devices, rather than professional film equipment, to make filmmaking more accessible.
“Those devices are already at everyone’s disposal,” said Reza Tures. “It’s all about access. We want these kids to be able to go home and continue to tell their stories and the region’s story and to have the tools to do so at any time, straight out of their pockets.”
13-year-old Brianna Elliott participated in the narrative filmmaking workshop this summer.
“This was my first time making a film and understanding filmmaking,” Elliott said. “There’s a whole new world I didn’t know about. I had to write a script, direct a movie, act in a movie and edit it. I used my parent’s camera to film the movie, transferred everything to my phone and used an app to edit it. It was really cool, once I edited it, it was like magic. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know I could do and that film can be used to inspire people.”
For Reza Tures, seeing the final product, especially from young filmmakers is always the biggest payoff.
“Our mission is to dispel stereotypes about our region and about border communities,” Reza Tures said. “Our stories deserve to be highlighted. Our job is to educate the next generation of storytellers, most especially from these regions that we don’t often get to hear from.”
To learn more about Femme Frontera and its programs visit https://www.femmefrontera.org/.