Award of Merit – “Golden” (USA)

Title: Golden
Runtime: 6 min
Country: USA  
Director: Kate Mitchell
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: June, 2020

Synopsis: GOLDEN is a wordless screendance in which a woman discovers, after years of domestic life, that her independence, intellectual curiosity, and sexual vibrancy are as powerful as ever. In dream-like sequences, she encounters the self she has been and the self that she can become. From her musings emerges a passionate self-declaration, elucidated by repeated choreographic motifs, flashbacks and flashforwards, and the evolution of color and set decor. By extension, GOLDEN affirms a woman’s right to define herself- rather than be defined by others. At the same time, it also rejects the notion that aging women have an “expiration date” in terms of inherent value. In all, GOLDEN is a unique alchemy- from drudgery to sparkling beauty.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Kate Mitchell – Director, Co-Choreographer

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

KM: In a way, GOLDEN was the last part of a trilogy, a body of work focused on the experiences of being women in the face of cultural obstacles and rigid constraints. The first part was a faux fashion show and book, FASHIONING WOMEN, which focused on how what women wear defines who we are- looking at the outside the body. The second, TERRAIN, focused on the skin- the body’s surface- which is shamed on the female body, but admired in the natural world. Finally, with GOLDEN, I wanted to express the diverse and magnificent world inside a woman’s body. This had to be a film in order to invite the viewer into a woman’s interior world as viscerally and intimately as possible.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

KM: The idea first came into my mind three years ago (2017). There were many stops and starts along the way: injury, fundraising challenges, other commitments on the part of the actor/dancer, DP and Creative Consulting Producer, and other unexpected delays pushed back the timetable back three times. However, the entire team put their all into making the film happen. Production was over two days in April, 2019, and editing was completed that September.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

KM: Actually, it was the best format for this project. I had never made a film before and was on a steep learning curve, which either made me courageous or crazy. I also wanted to tell the story as wisely and succinctly as possible, which required discipline, attempted adherence to the budget, and the necessity of serious editing! Everyone on the team brought so much experience and excitement to the table, and they made my film better.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

KM: Most challenging was scheduling.  For everyone on the film, GOLDEN was a passion project, and as freelancers, they needed to sandwich it between their more lucrative projects. 

Such a juggling act!  Sometimes, I felt very alone with the production. Fortunately, my line producer and assistant kept me on track- I was very lucky to be able to hire them.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

KM: I’ve found making this film and all of my other creative work (dance, choreography, sculptural couture, and collage work) that the idea that won’t leave me is the one I’m compelled to pursue. Then, if the inspirations about it start jumping out, like popcorn popping, I get really excited and that propels me forward. I’ve also learned that a day of “this is terrible/expletive deleted” is usually followed  the next day with “hmm, maybe there’s something good here”. As the covid virus has hinted, if not now, when?