Independent. Powerful. Female.
By Christina Campodonico
Grrrls on Film — a free community festival celebrating the cinema, music and women of L.A.’s punk and Riot Grrrl scenes — stages a DIY takeover of Loyola Marymount University this weekend with a series of screenings, discussions and performances.
Organized by LMU professors Evelyn McDonnell and Sharon Mooney, the seeds of Grrrls on Film were planted with a soul-baring confession that sparked their friendship.
McDonnell, an assistant professor of journalism and new media, had invited Mooney, a clinical assistant professor with LMU’s School of Film and Television, to help instruct her students in video editing for a class project. As a thank you, McDonnell gave Mooney, a new mom, a copy of her book “Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock ’n’ Roll.”
“And then she sent me an email back,” McDonnell recalls. It read, “‘I pretty much only like bands with … screaming women in them.’”
Realizing they had way more in common than teaching at the same university — namely a passion for strong, female-driven punk bands — McDonnell and Mooney began collaborating to introduce a new generation to the music, films and feminist icons of alternative culture that inspired them as young women.
“Seeing women like Patti Smith or Joan Jett or Debbie Harry was very liberating because they were rejecting all those beauty standards and pressures to fit in that are so oppressive when you’re a teenage girl,” says McDonnell, whose “Queens of Noise” is the definitive text on the 1970s all-female rock band The Runaways.
Mooney found similar solace in music, finding escape in a cassette tape with X’s album “Los Angeles” on one side and songs by X-ray Spex on the other.
“Beginning my sophomore year of my super awkward phase, it was just me and cassette tapes,” she says.
Through music, McDonnell and Mooney discovered both the essence of punk — alternative, barrier-breaking, do-it-yourself — and its 1990s successor, Riot Grrrl —political, feminist and fierce.
For Grrrls on Film, McDonnell and Mooney have assembled seminal women from both movements for a program of film screenings, talks and musical performances. From finding your voice to fitting in, each woman has a story to tell about her life, her times and the cultural movement she helped define.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
PANEL: Girl Power: Behind the Lens, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
A discussion with filmmakers Angela Boatwright, Karyn Kusama and Leena Pendharkar, author Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn and LMU associate film professor Vanessa Newell
SCREENINGS: “The Runaways” and “Dirty Girls,” 8 p.m.
A Q&A with directors Michael Lucid and Floria Sigismondi to follow
SCREENINGS: “Born in Flames” and “Golden Chain,” noon
Q&A with directors Lizzie Borden, Adebukola Bodrunrin and Ezra Clayton Daniels to follow
SCREENINGS: “The Decline of Western Civilization” and “I Don’t Know,” 2:30 p.m.
Q&A with director Penelope Spheeris and Anna Fox to follow
SCREENINGS: “In Search of Margo-go,” “Daybreak,” and “Quinn,” 5 p.m.
Performances by various artists and a Q&A with directors Jill Reiter and Lucretia Tye Jasmine follows
PANEL: LAy of the LAnd: We Will Bury You, 8:30 p.m.
A discussion with Alice Bag, Phranc, activist Nicole Panter, writer Raquel Gutiérrez and LMU professor Rubén Martínez
SCREENINGS: “Lost Grrrls: Riot Grrrl in Los Angeles” and “Grrrl Love and Revolution: Riot Grrrl NYC,” noon
Q&A with directors Vega Darling and Abby Moser to follow
CONCERT: Grrrls on Stage, 2 to 5 p.m.
Allison Wolfe emcees a lineup featuring Kim and the Created, Colleen Green, Peach Kelli Pop, DJs Cass and McAllister, DJ Mukta Mohan and DJ Taylor Rowley, plus spoken word by Kari Krome, Alicia Partnoy, and Sarah Maclay