The Filmmakers

From filmmakers Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers:

Our hope is that the film will accomplish two things. First, we hope that it will help start a national conversation about what U.S. servicewomen have been asked to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Department of Defense policy formally bans women from direct ground combat, but commanders routinely have had to violate this policy in order to execute their missions. Overlooking the contradiction between policy in Washington and reality on the ground has become status quo.

But this status quo has serious consequences. It keeps women in a grey zone and is an ongoing source of confusion for leaders who are left to interpret the policy on their own.

Only by knowing what women have actually been doing in the war can we know how to take care of them when they come home. Our second hope is that LIONESS will be taken up as part of an emergent movement that seeks to improve health care and mental health services for both active duty and veteran women. We know that such care is traditionally based on the model of a male combatant. Much primary research needs to be done on the gender-specific needs of female veterans, especially in the area of mental health. Acknowledging and supporting women veterans when they return home and re-enter civilian life with the services they require, is an important step in moving them out of the grey zone they currently occupy.

Their three favorite films:

The Burmese Harp by Kon Ichikawa
Grey Gardens by Albert and David Maysles
To Kill A Mockingbird by Robert Mulligan

Coming Home by Hal Ashby
Seventeen by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines
My Night at Maud’s by Eric Rohmer

Their advice for aspiring filmmakers:
Be entrepreneurial.

Their most inspirational foods for making independent film:
Dark chocolate
Iced Coffee

Filmmaker Bios

Meg McLagan

Meg McLagan is a New York-based documentary filmmaker and cultural anthropologist. Her half-hour film, Tibet in Exile, which she co-directed, produced and shot, portrays the experience of displacement through the eyes of Tibetan refugee children smuggled into India. It aired on public television and was screened at festivals and museums in the U.S. and Europe. McLagan also worked as producer on Paris Is Burning, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance and both the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Circle Award for Best Documentary. She received a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from New York University, where she taught anthropology and documentary production in the Program in Culture and Media from 1998 to 2005.

McLagan has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Pacific Pioneer Fund, Wenner Gren Foundation and the Sony Corporation. She also has had fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, the School of American Research and the Content + Intent Documentary Institute at MASS MoCA. In addition to her film work, she is co-editor of Visual Cultures of Nongovernmental Politics (forthcoming from Zone Books).

Daria Sommers

Daria Sommers is a director, writer and producer of both documentaries and narrative films. Her work includes the award-winning Eastern Spirit Western World, a portrait of Chinese American artist Diana Kan, which was broadcast nationally by PBS, CBC and the BBC and premiered at the Smithsonian Institution; Duncan’s Shadow, a dramatic short which premiered at the Georgetown Film Festival; and the Audience Award-winning half-hour drama Ready to Burn, which received a New Director’s Award from Panavision.

Sommers began her career at PBS. Her work has garnered awards from the NEH, NEA and CPB. She has served on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Program for Art on Film review panel and has been an artist-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony and at the Content +Intent Documentary Institute at MassMoCa. She recently completed Sawadika American Girl, a feature-length screenplay about Americans living in Bangkok in the shadow of the Vietnam War. She lives in New York and is a graduate of Oberlin College.

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