By Jana Zeidan / News Reporter || Edited by Sara Segat
ROME — So Fare Films releases Season 2 of the documentary series, Women in Progress premiered on Dec.1 in Aula Magna, after nine months after its first ‘season’s release.
Women in Progress is a documentary series in three episodes. Each season is directed by emerging creators to tell the stories of “awesome” women who have followed their dreams and passion. The second season follows the journey of three women and their journey in Rome, directed by four female filmmakers and JCU alumnae.
The first episode tells the story of Shuyi and her mother, Bai Hua, who moved from a northern city in China and currently live in Rome. Shuyi owns a nail salon, and her mother owns a Chinese restaurant called Ciao Zi. In the episode, directed by JCU alumna Saliha Crespo, Bai says that with starting a business, there come many challenges that one must overcome, however, the future will be better.
“When I heard Shuyi’s story and her mother’s, Jenn and I talked about how the stories would be told combined,” Crespo said. “I found their stories very moving, and they showed how it’s never too late to change your path and how life can continue after rock bottom.”
Crespo said that she would like viewers to feel motivated and inspired when watching this episode.
The second episode tells the story of Antonella Di Simone, a yoga instructor who opened her studio in November 2019. She was filmed by JCU alumna Olivia Petra.
“I was particularly intrigued by her story,” said Petra. “During the last few years, I have been exploring the world of surfing, which is strongly connected to yoga and sustainability. The subject was close to me, and I knew I could give it my personal style.”
The last episode follows the story of Jenni Oh, a ceramicist born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, who moved to Rome until her recent return to Australia. Jenni started pottery in 2012 and developed her art into a business. This episode was directed by two JCU alumnae, Mariolina Falone and Lavinia Giardina.
“Jenni is the romantic example of transforming your passion into work,” Falone said. “It takes courage and love, and I think viewers can tell that when they see Jenni. She really believes that. I really believe that. And I want the viewers to believe that after they watch the episode.”
Falone said that after she filmed Jenni in her studio, she wants “to dedicate time to that beautiful art,” and would like for viewers to try pottery someday too.
The past two seasons of Women in Progress have been filmed in Rome. Crespo and Falone have both directed episodes from both seasons, and they said that even though the first two seasons were set in Rome, Women in Progress has an international vision.
“We focused on Rome because it was our starting point since we were all living in Rome to finish our studies,” Falone said.
Josephine Gravatt, a JCU student who is currently interning at So Fare Films, is coordinating the screening of Season 2 between JCU and the company.
Gravatt said that what makes the screening of Season 2 different from Season 1 is that the women featured in Season 1 participated in the screening.
“Masha De Salvatore, who is a comedian, will perform a skit,” said Gravatt before the screening. “There will be artworks displayed around the Aula Magna from Anne Sibireff, who is a painter.”
Gravatt explains why the screening of both seasons was at Aula Magna.
“It is exceptionally cheaper to use an on-campus facility to do the screening and all the interns are from JCU, and Jenn is a professor there, so we are very much affiliated.”
Gravatt also said that the screening has been supported by the JCU Communications Department, with a tiny bit of funding reserved for these kinds of events.
So Fare Films, the production company that made Women in Progress, was co-founded by Jenn Lindsay, Professor of Sociology at John Cabot University, alongside Sarah McTeigue, a film editor known for films like The Matrix Resurrection, and Kiersten Pilar Miller, an assistant director known for films like Men in Black II.
The mission of So Fare Films is to produce documentary films that address social issues through human challenges and to provide an educational program for emerging creators.
Professor and Dean of the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Australia, Lisa French, writes on how female documentarians have provided a platform for women’s voices to be heard.