Refinery29 to Debut Female-Directed Short Film Series (Exclusive)

Refinery29 Watching You, Watching Me Still -Screen Shot-H 2016
Courtesy of Refinery29

ShatterBox Anthology includes films from Chloey Sevigny, Kristen Stewart and Gabourey Sidibe.

Refinery29 is spotlighting female filmmakers with the Aug. 28 debut of its ShatterBox Anthology short-film series. 

On Sunday the digital media company will release the first of 12 planned short films created by female directors, writers and animators, kicking off plans to premiere a new film each month on its website and via Comcast's Watchable streaming video service. 

The release of the first film in the ShatterBox series, a documentary called Watching You, Watching Me, is the culmination of seven months of work with female filmmakers to bring their short films to life. Refinery29 first announced ShatterBox at Sundance, revealing that it had teamed with the Sundance Institute on the yearlong project. The first project it announced was Chloe Sevigny's directorial debut, a short called Kitty that went on to premiere at Cannes. Refinery29 has since added filmmakers to the program, including Kristen Stewart and Gabourey Sidibe.

To distribute the films, Refinery29 is setting up a dedicated home on its website where viewers can watch the shorts and read more about women in film. Watchable, Comcast's one-year-old ad-supported streaming app that just announced plans to stream exclusive content for the first time, will also distribute the films. "The goal always was to get the films in front of as wide of an audience as possible," says Refinery29 chief content officer Amy Emmerich of the distribution plan. "We also looked for partners who believed in the mission of what we were doing and why we were doing it." 

Each short explores the dynamic of power through the lens of a female storyteller. The series begins with Watching You, Watching Me. Written and directed by Pamela Romanowsky (The Adderall Diaries), the documentary explores the experience of  being looked at from someone else's point of view. 

Over the next several months, Refinery29 will release a number of projects, including The Statement, written and directed by Meera Menon about a Cuban American conservative living in Florida who decided to run for office, and Tiffany Shlain's documentary 50/50 Project, which explores the past, present and future of women in power. 

Sevigny's Kitty, which is adapted from a short story of the same name, debuts in November. Rounding out the year are Esprit, a documentary from Jessica Dimmock (The Pearl) about transgender women who travel from all over the country to attend the annual Esprit conference, and drama Pinky, from Roja Gashtili and Julia Lerman about a young girl who faces her impending adulthood during a slumber party. Emmerich says that Refinery29 will explore festival premieres for the second half of projects before releasing them next year.

Refinery29, which focused on lifestyle and news editorial and video programming for young women, has made female-fronted projects a focus of its video efforts. ShatterBox debuts on the heels of the launch of The Skinny from Jessie Kahnweiler, distributed in collaboration with Jill Soloway and Andrea Sperling's 

Emmerich says that it's important for the digital video industry to push for more diversity among its projects, especially as the conversation around female representation in film remains an important issue in Hollywood. "We have to believe that anything is possible," she says. "Tech changes quite often, and you have to be very adaptable. The rest of the world isn't able to move as quickly." 

Watch the trailer for Watching You, Watching Me here: