Welcome to the third and final installment of the Spotlight series, a series that aims to introduce readers to women and gender-non-conforming individuals that are making waves in the film industry. This Spotlight article highlights Sydney Freeland, a transgender Navajo filmmaker and Jane Schoenbrun, a nonbinary filmmaker.
Sydney Freeland left her home of Gallup, New Mexico in the late 1990s to begin her career at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Freeland cultivated her artistic talents, and some years later, she became a Fullbright Scholar in Ecuador, where she studied the indigenous peoples of the country.
Sydney Freeland has directed episodes of countless TV series including “Fear the Walking Dead,” “P-Valley,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Reservation Dogs” and boasts two feature length films. Her first film, “Drunktown’s Finest,” premiered at both the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and London, England. “Drunktown’s Finest” centers on three Navajo individuals looking to leave the reservation they live on. The film serves as a response to a “20/20” report that labeled Gallup, New Mexico as “Drunk Town USA.”
Freeland’s second movie, “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train,” also appeared at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Shortly after, the film went on Netflix for streaming in accordance with the company being designated as the financier and distributor of the film. “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train” features Ashleigh Murray, the “Riverdale” star, as Deidra. Alongside Murray stars “X Factor” finalist Rachel Crow as Laney. The two play sisters who are trying to keep their family together after their mother is placed in jail.
Sydney Freeland is currently the director of the Disney+ series “Echo.” “Echo” belongs to the Marvel franchise and is a spin-off of the “Hawkeye” series. According to the “Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki,” “Echo” is slated to premiere in late 2023.
Jane Schoenbrun has led various projects over the past decade including short films, web series and feature length films. In their 2021 film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” Shoenbrun digs into the undiscovered and chilling territory of the relationship between youth and social media. In her first ever role, Anna Cobb plays a young girl named Casey, who lives a secluded life with just her father amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As Casey delves deeper into an unsettling internet trend, she begins to lose a grasp on what is real and what isn’t.
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is currently streaming on HBO Max.
If you are interested in reading other “Spotlight” articles, take a look at issue one and issue two. As stated above, this is the final installment of the series for this semester. As always, feel empowered to check out these creators’ works.